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12 Dec, 2013

ASEAN businesses see integration as opportunity, not threat: survey


JAKARTA, Dec. 11 (Xinhua) — Business communities in the 10 member countries of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) hold that the upcoming regional economic integration would not disrupt their business, saying it would even give them opportunity rather than threat.

It was learned from the results of a recent survey carried out by ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN BAC) of 502 businessmen from companies of various size operating in the 10 ASEAN member countries.

More than half of the respondents considered ASEAN economic integration will pose a low or very low threat to their organizations, rating the threat level at an average of 2.49 on a scale of 1 (very low) to 5 (very high), according to the survey entitled “2013 ASEAN-BAC Survey on ASEAN Competitiveness” released on Monday.

The survey, carried out since 2010, was conducted by ASEAN-BAC in collaboration with fellow scholars from Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore.

The integration of economy within regional politics and economy bloc of ASEAN, called ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), would take effect by the end of 2015, allowing free flow of economic activities and resources within the region.

The survey showed that about 60 percent of the businesses in the region considered AEC would provide high or very high opportunities for their organizations, as reflected by an average ratio of 3.59 on a scale of 1 (very low) to 5 (very high).

In terms of investment, the business circle continued to view positively on the region’s competitiveness in attracting investment, with 94 percent of businesses having plan to invest or increase investment in an ASEAN country over the next three years.

Most of the business people eager to invest in ASEAN countries identified their plans as seeking access to a new or growing market in the region. Other reasons behind their eagerness were abundant “supply” of customers and low cost of production facilities.

The survey also showed that nearly half of the businesses planned their investment in ASEAN countries over the next three years by considering the investment attractiveness of the ASEAN region as a whole rather than the attractiveness of individual countries. That figure was higher than the two-fifths in the previous 2011-2012 surveys.

“There are growing signs that more businesses are adopting an ‘ ASEAN strategy’ in their approach to expansion, marketing and branding in response to ASEAN’s move towards an AEC,” the survey said.

Based on these findings, the ASEAN-BAC has put forth some policy recommendations to ASEAN, such as ensuring the timely and effective implementation of measures towards an AEC in a bid to spur even more businesses to adopt the ASEAN strategy.

The bloc was also advised to pay more attention to harmonizing, simplifying and enhancing the transparency of rules and regulations in the areas of business registration, investment and customs procedures.

Formed in 1967, ASEAN groups Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, Brunei Darussalam, Vietnam, Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia.