Benefits of the Asean Economic Community (AEC)
* It will open more regional cooperation and will improve the scale efficiencies, dynamism and competitiveness of Asean members. AEC will enable easier movement of goods, services, investment, capital and people. Ultimately, it will offer new ways of coordinating supply chains, or access to new markets for established products. * All Asean countries are more important to foreign investors if they are considered as one node in a larger regional market of nearly 600 million people - a single market. The Asean Free Trade Agreement will be expanded to zero tariffs on almost all goods by 2015. Asean plans to remain engaged with the global economy through regional-level free trade agreements - today, Asean has such agreements with China, Japan, Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand. * The USITC's Asean: Regional Trends in Economic Integration, Export Competitiveness, and Inbound Investment for Selected Industries Report noted that the AEC is coming at a time when it is recognized thatinvestment in emerging markets is more desirable than in the US and Europe. "There will be no shortage of funding coming from within Asean, the Asia Pacific or even the US and Europe. These investments can bring about badly needed capital for some countries, allowing them to leapfrog from the 20th century into the 21st in terms of competition in mature countries such as Thailand and Malaysia", said the report. * SMEs accounted for 96% of enterprises and between 50-85% of domestic employment across Asean. Integrating these SMEs and supporting them in the inital period will be a challenge throughout ASEAN but particularly in the lesser developed ASEAN countries. Recently I was in SIngapore and it is obvious that the Singapore government fully realizes the challenge and the opportunity that the AEC will represent to SMEs and is putting both the planning talent and the resources to better support their SMEs. I was also in...
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