ABAC To Present 7 Proposals To Asean Ministers

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KOTA BAHARU, Feb 28 (Bernama) -- The ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ABAC) will present seven proposals covering eight sectors to the ASEAN economic ministers meeting here, including expanding retail e-commerce transactions and boosting entrepreneurship among youths and women in the region, chairman Tan Sri Dr Mohd Munir Abdul Majid said.

He said the proposals, termed "Take Action Now" and for implementation ideally before the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) takes place by year-end, are not purely economic but have high symbolic value with a substantial impact on the degree of the region's integration into a single economy.

"We are talking about us (ASEAN countries) working together so that we can benefit from that open market (AEC)," he told reporters at a briefing on the sidelines of the Preparatory Senior Economic Officials Meetings here Saturday.

The meeting was in conjunction with the 21st ASEAN Economic Ministers' Retreat themed "Our People, Our Community, Our Vision" which began yesterday and ends tomorrow.

On expanding retail e-commerce transactions, Mohd Munir said this could be done by improving the necessary infrastructure such as e-payment system and logistics.

He said only one per cent of total retail sales in ASEAN is through the internet as compared to eight to nine per cent in more developed countries.

He added that the region has the potential for an eight- to nine-fold growth in e-commerce in the retail sector if it can address the infrastructure needs and increase consumer confidence in e-commerce.

Mohd Munir said ABAC will also propose the setting up of an ASEAN Young Entrepreneur Association and an ASEAN Women Entrepreneur Association, pointing out that people aged below 30 and women represent 50 per cent of the region's population.

Other proposals include extending an ASEAN internship programme beyond universities to vocational and technical training centres, and establishing an expert group in the financial services and capital market sector to work inside the ASEAN secretariat.

The group could expedite decisions agreed to by ASEAN countries but have not materialised, and ABAC is willing to finance it, he said, adding the council also wants to improve the legal, taxation and finance infrastructure to make it more focused.

Apart from the new proposals, he said ABAC would also reiterate outstanding proposals such as the ASEAN business card to encourage more business people to travel within the region and an ASEAN lane at all international entry points to make the people feel they are ASEAN citizens.

Established in 2003 by ASEAN leaders to represent the private sector, ABAC comprises 30 council members, including three from each country with at least one from the SME sector.