JUNE, 2003

A grouping of ASEAN’s most prominent businessmen convened in Bangkok, Thailand on May 31 for the first working meeting of the ASEAN Business Advisory Council (A-BAC). The ASEAN Heads of Government (ASEAN Leaders) established ABAC as the primary vehicle for private sector feedback and guidance to boost their efforts towards creating an integrated and competitive ASEAN economy. To realize their objectives, ASEAN Leaders personally nominated, upon the advice of senior economic officials and the respective chambers of commerce, up to three business leaders from each country to sit on the council. Inaugurated at the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta on 10 April 2003, the group concluded its first working session over the weekend. The importance of ABAC’s inputs to the ASEAN integration process could not be further emphasized with the presence of the Thai Deputy Prime Minister, H.E. Dr. Korn Dabarransi, in one of the ABAC’s sessions. The Deputy Prime Minister reaffirmed the strong support of the ASEAN governments to ABAC’s work to help boost business vibrancy and create a more business-friendly climate in the region.

Given the present global economic and political climate and the increasing competition from regional trading blocs and emerging large economies, members of ABAC recognized that ASEAN leaders are faced with a number of circumstances requiring both business and government to commit to measures that will boost the region’s productivity and competitiveness. Towards this end, ABAC members discussed thoroughly the challenges and issues affecting ASEAN business. The appointed delegates tackled the challenges to ASEAN businesses and identified possible solutions and action plans to address the challenges. Over their two-day meeting, the ABAC members discussed practical solutions towards facilitating trade and investment and effectively implementing ASEAN integration initiatives on the ground..

The Chairman of A-BAC, Mr. Rudy J. Pesik, President-Director of DHL-Indonesia, formed two main task forces – one on economic integration and the other on ASEAN’s competitiveness – to carry out the major work of the council. The Task Force on Economic Integration is led by Dr. Viraj Klewtatinond, Deputy Secretary-General of the Federation of Thai Industries while the Task Force on ASEAN Competitiveness is led by Tengku Tan Sri (Dr.) Mahaleel, CEO of Proton Berhad. ABAC members agreed to convene regular meetings in the following months so as to build its institutional capacity, and to immediately begin its function of providing feedback and direction to the ASEAN Leaders.  A formal report will be submitted to the ASEAN Leaders at their Annual Summit in Bali in early October 2003.

In line with the mandate of ABAC, this influential private sector body is in the process of organizing ASEAN’s first major business and investment summit, which will be held on 5-7 October 2003 in Bali, Indonesia, back-to-back with the ASEAN Summit. The ASEAN Business and Investment Summit (ASEAN-BIS) will be geared towards encouraging trade and investment transactions.

The ASEAN-BIS will feature exhibitions of ASEAN’s fastest growing industries and most attractive investment destinations, as well as dialogues with ASEAN government and business leaders. While we have slotted for six ASEAN Leaders to be speakers at ASEAN-BIS, we expect the attendance of 16 regional Leaders including from China, India, Japan, Korea, Australia and New Zealand. Dialogues and discussions at the ASEAN-BIS will focus on the ASEAN business climate, its growth areas and integration efforts, opportunities in ASEAN regional partnerships, industry-specific integration in ASEAN, a forum on ASEAN’s global competitiveness, the partnership of ASEAN-China, and a trade and investment outlook for the region.

In addition to exhibitions focused on ASEAN Industries and attractive investment destinations, the summit will feature trade and investment opportunities in each of ASEAN’s 10 member nations. Fast-growing autonomous regencies in the host country, Indonesia, will be also be showcased. Throughout the exhibitions and dialogues, the ASEAN-BIS will be focused upon encouraging ASEAN and other businessmen to appreciate ASEAN business and investment opportunities, develop joint-ventures, make investment decisions, and to make transactions in goods and services.

In terms of economic power, ASEAN comprises a market of more than 500 million people and has annual gross production well over US $ 500 billion. It is a region that is strategically positioned between the two global giants of India and China. ASEAN’s economic potential is enormous. The challenges the region faces, however, are also enormous.

To address these challenges, government leaders have introduced trade and investment initiatives, established a high-level task force of senior government officials, and hired a major consulting company to produce an ASEAN competitiveness study. Now they have formed a business advisory council consisting of top private sector leaders and captains of ASEAN industry to be the governments’ partner in creating a more dynamic, integrated and competitive ASEAN economy. With the establishment of the ASEAN Business Advisory Council, and the conclusion of its first working session, the governments of ASEAN have added a critical new element in their drive towards a stronger and more prosperous regional economy.

The appointed A-BAC members include:

Brunei
    

Myanmar

His Royal Highness Prince Abdul Qawi
    

Dr. Sein Myint

Mr. Razali Johari
    

U Win Aung

Mr. Lim Beng Tai
    

Dr. Ko Ko Gyi

Cambodia
    

Philippines

Mr. Sorn Sokna
    

Mr. Jose S. Concepcion, Jr.

Mr. Kong Triv
    

Mr. Miguel B. Varela

Mr. Hann Khieng
    

Ms. Rose D. Teodoro

Indonesia
    

Singapore

Mr. Rudy J. Pesik
    

Mr. Tony Chew

Mr. Rudjito
    

Mr. Peter Tay

Mr. Henry Hutabarat
    

Mr. Robert Yap

Lao PDR
    

Thailand

Mr. Oudet Souvannavong
    

Dr. Vachara Phanchet

Mr. Khamchanh Lattanavong
    

Dr. Twatchai Yongkittikul

Malaysia
    

Mr. Viraj Klewtatinond

Tengku Tan Sri (Dr) Mahaleel
    

Vietnam

Dato Syed Amin Al Jeffri
    

Mr. Pham Van Tan

Datuk Dr. Zaharah Abd. Kadir
    

Mr. Luc Chanh Truong

 
    

Mr. Veong Hoang Son