As part of an initiative to conduct outreach to the business sector for the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) building efforts, it could not have happened at a more opportune time that ASEAN Secretariat launched two business publications; the ASEAN Economic Community Handbook for Business 2012 and the Directory of Innovative SMEs in ASEAN 2012. This message was conveyed by the Secretary-General of ASEAN, Dr Surin Pitsuwan, through his keynote speech at the gatherings of over 900 business leaders and executives at the ASEAN Business & Investment Summit (ASEAN-BIS) 2012 from 17-18 November in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Aptly named AEC Handbook for Business 2012 the first publication provides the business with the progress, achievements on ASEAN’s agreements, arrangements, and decisions as well as key challenges facing all the sectoral bodies under the purview of AEC in a reader-friendly and handy format. With proper, concise and timely updates, businesses can strategise to fully benefit from the progress that is taking place.

The second publication entitled Directory of Innovative SMEs in ASEAN 2012, is a product of close collaboration with the ASEAN SME Agencies Working Group (SMEWG). It seeks to acknowledge and support SMEs that are creative and innovative in the region. This Directory aims to provide a platform to showcase and publicise approximately 330 innovative ASEAN-based SMEs.  Besides the listing of innovative SMEs in ASEAN, the Directory also provides information on SME incubation centers and contact details of the offices of ASEAN Intellectual Property (IP) agencies in ASEAN Member States. Soft copies of both publications are available for download from the ASEAN Secretariat’s website (www.asean.org).

Successfully convened for the past nine years, the annual ASEAN-BIS continues to serve as a prime platform for the business community, policy makers, political leaders as well as academia in exchanging best-practice experience, opportunities, challenges, and engaging in business networking within the region and with dialogue partner countries.  Discussion themes at the ASEAN-BIS 2012 included: renewable energy, capitalising on ASEAN connectivity, creating more opportunities for SMEs, socialisation of the ASEAN Comprehensive Investment Agreement (ACIA), promoting good corporate governance, innovation in a dynamic market, and accessing capital for SMEs in ASEAN.

The ASEAN-BIS 2012 was co-organised by the Cambodian Ministry of Commerce, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN-BAC) and the Cambodia Chamber of Commerce.