Bali, Indonesia, 16 November 2011

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H.E. Mr. Gita Wirjawan, Minister of Trade of the Republic of Indonesia;

Honourable Mr. Anangga Roosdiono, Chairman of ASEAN BAC;

Excellencies;

Distinguished Business Representatives;

Ladies and Gentlemen;

On behalf of the Secretary General of ASEAN, I would like to thank H.E. Mr. Gita Wirjawan, Minister of Trade of the Republic of Indonesia and Mr. Anangga Roosdiono, Chairman of ASEAN BAC for the gracious invitation to this evening’s social event and for giving me an opportunity to launch three ASEAN publications: the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Handbook for Business, the Directory of Outstanding ASEAN Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) 2011 and the ASEAN Investment Report 2011. The launching of the publications at this private sector event signifies the commitment of ASEAN to engage and work with the business community in building the AEC.

The participation and collaboration of all stakeholders, particularly the private sector, is crucial for the creation of a strong foundation for the establishment of the AEC by 2015.

Against this backdrop, the AEC Handbook for Business has been compiled in a reader-friendly manner so as to enhance awareness of the developments taking place in the AEC with the target audience – the private sector and other stakeholders — including civil society, the academia and ASEAN’s Dialogue and Development Partners. The developments in the AEC are dynamic and therefore the need to share and update information on the progress of ASEAN’s regional economic integration initiatives and efforts. The last update on the AEC developments for businesses was relased in the first quarter of this year. We have had positive feedback on last relase and this update is relased but with a more business friendly language.

The Business Handbook hopefully will assist companies in charting their business plans and in enhancing the engagement of ASEAN Member States based companies and transnational businesses in ASEAN to go regional in commercial activities and services throughout ASEAN.

It is also our fervent hope that the Business Handbook will serve as a useful guide to help them expand their business activities across the ASEAN region and strengthen their linkages with the global economy. This will further enhance and support the strong and growing intra-ASEAN trade in the region.

In recognition of the important contribution of the SMEs to AEC and to enhance their networking and linkages the “Directory of Outstanding ASEAN SME 2011″ has been compiled. The Directory contains a list of nearly 1,000 top SMEs from all ten AMS with contact details by industries and sectors.

The SME Directory also contains an overview of the policy initiatives for SMEs in AMSs and incorporates information on Free Trade Agreements between ASEAN and its Dialogue Partners so as to build awareness and to support the transfromation of ASEAN SMEs as world-class enterprises by 2015. In addition, the SME Directory provides information on SME Service centres in all ten ASEAN Member State. These centers provide comprehensive development support services, such as training in managerial and technological capabilities for SMEs.

The third publication is the ASEAN Investment Report 2011 which provides an assessment of developments and trends in regional and global FDI as well as an analysis of the performance of ASEAN against this backdrop. The Report highlights ASEAN’s favorable performance despite the recent global financial crisis which indicates the region’s resilience and favourable economic conditions. It also reveals that in terms of capital flows ASEAN as with the rest of the emerging/developing markets recovered more sharply than developed markets and will continue to grow. This increase in capital flows also translates into increased FDI inflows.

The Report also examines the challenges and risks as well as opportunities for ASEAN. It reviews the current policy and institutional environment in ASEAN and how these have affected ASEAN’s competitiveness vis-à-vis other regions. The Report offers some recommendations of what ASEAN must do to navigate through the challenges and achieve its regional economic integration objective.

Finally, allow me to express my deepest appreciation to all ASEAN Officials, including the SMEWG and my colleagues at the ASEAN Secretariat for their hard work and cooperation in preparing as well as in making the necessary arrangements for the timely launching of the Business Handbook, the SME Directory and AIR 2011. Our deepest appreciation also goes to the organisers of this event for their kind acceptance for holding the launching of the three publications at this occassion.

Thank you.