Bizmen urged to prepare to seize vast opportunities in AEC 2015 PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, 26 January 2014 14:33

“If there is one thing that our business sector should be upbeat about in the coming days, it should be the much anticipated integration of the 11-member nations of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) into a single market and production base in 2015,” Dr. Sitti Amina Jain, officer in-charge of the Department of Trade and Industry Regional Office 9 (DTI-9) said.

“Definitely, there will be challenges but just like a coin, there are two sides to it. This means that along with the challenges are the vast opportunities lying in wait for those who prepare and plan out to seize them”, Dr. Jain said.

When asked just what exactly an ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) mean and its implications to us all, Jain quoted Ambassador and former ASEAN Secretary General Rodolfo C. Severino, Jr. in his article entitled. An ASEAN Economic Community by 2015?

AEC 2015 was defined by Amb. Severino in the context of the ASEAN’s Vision 2020 as “a stable, prosperous and highly competitive ASEAN Economic Region in which there is a free flow of goods, services and investments, a freer flow of capital, equitable economic development and reduced poverty and socio-economic disparities”.

The ASEAN Concord II, according to Severino, reiterated this definition and refined it as “a single market and production base”, a phrase that found its way into the new ASEAN Charter as one of the association’s purposes.

The AEC 2015 Strategic Schedule, according to the same article calls for the: Elimination of non-tariff, as well as tariff, barriers to intra-ASEAN trade; Promotion of transparency of all actions in international trade transactions; Simplification, harmonisation, standardisation and automation of customs processes; Adoption of national “single windows” for customs transactions; Implementation of common regimes for the sectors agreed upon, including those for cosmetics, electrical and electronic equipment, pharmaceuticals and medical devices; Removal of “substantially all restrictions on trade in services”; Implementation of mutual recognition of professional credentials that have been agreed upon, including those in architecture, accountancy, surveying, and medical and dental services; Reduction or elimination of investment restrictions; Harmonisation of capital-market standards; Harmonisation of quarantine and inspection procedures for food, agriculture and forestry products; Implementation of the ASEAN agreements on multi-modal transport, goods in transit, inter-state transport, and civil aviation; Implementation of regional measures to extend connectivity and access between ASEAN countries via high-speed networks; and Harmonisation of the legal infrastructure for e-commerce.

“Simply, there are just so much opportunities when all these will have been in place in 2015. Complementation, joint venture arrangements, access to a much bigger market, even job opportunities in the services sector for our graduates, and many other good things are expected to open up once the ASEAN integration fully takes off,” Dr. Jain noted.

“But just as I said, there are two sides to it and therefore, I urge our SMEs and exporters to prepare, if they still haven’t started. They should have a clear roadmap for their businesses so they can better position themselves when the ASEAN integration will have been implemented,” Dr. Jain said.

“On the part of the DTI, we will have an intensified info campaign on the AEC this year in all cities and in other growth centers in the region, so our SMEs will be better informed, and therefore, better prepared for this eventuality”, Dr. Jain said. — LSV