ASEAN to declare single market but delays deeper integration

Mustapa_Mohamed

ASEAN will officially call itself a single market by year’s end, but full integration will only come in 2020, says Malaysia’s Minister for International Trade and Industry Mustapa Mohamed.

ASEAN will officially call itself a single market by year’s end, but “big things” like seamless travel within the 10-nation bloc would only come in 2020, Malaysia’s trade minister told AFP in an interview.

“We’re going to declare ourselves as an ASEAN Economic Community,” said Mustapa Mohamed, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the Southeast Asian bloc this year. “We don’t have complete integration or harmonisation yet – 2015 is laying the stage for bigger things to come,” he said on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

“We’re going to get almost there by 2015 but the big things like seamless travel … would come in 2020. What’s important is that we’re committed, I’m not saying that we’re backtracking,” added the minister.

The Southeast Asian bloc, a market of about 600 million people, had set 2015 as a deadline for integrating the region’s vast economies into a single European Union-style market, with tariffs abolished and free movement of skilled workers. But there is much scepticism that the targets could be met, as the bloc is made up of countries in vastly different stages of economic development.

Myanmar, for instance, is just opening up its economy after decades of isolation over its outright military rule which came to an end in 2011. At the opposite end of the spectrum is Singapore, which ranks among the world’s richest nations.

Mustapa acknowledged that it would only be “in 2020 that you’ll see more progress in ASEAN economic integration” in terms of the abolishing of non-tariff barriers, and flow of skilled labour. By year’s end, there will be “freer movement of goods and services but not free movement of goods and services.”

The business community has been pushing political leaders to move faster on integration, but Mustapa said the ASEAN model is gradual. “The business community wants ASEAN to be integrated as one entity. The fact is that there are border issues, customs, immigration, and different regulations,” he said.

In addition, there is little understanding among the general public on how a single market can change their lives, said the minister. “Some fear that they would be robbed of their jobs, that come December 2015, I’ll be out of job because my Malaysian friend is coming over,” he said. “We need to do a lot more in terms of communication.”

Asked if Europe’s recent economic woes over heavily indebted member states like Greece had put off integration plans, Mustapa said that “from day one, we know that we’re not going to adopt the EU model”. A single currency or a parliament were never part of the bloc’s plans, he said.

ASEAN groups together Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

 

 

Source : Channel News Asia | January 24, 2015

Thomas D’Innocenzi

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About thomasdinnocenzi

Thomas D'Innocenzi is a highly accomplished, results-focused senior international executive with extensive experience in global sourcing and market development worldwide to meet evolving business needs. Tom has proven ability in implementing and managing profitable global sourcing operations worldwide. Extensive experience in international market development operations to accommodate rapid growth. Skilled in building top-performing teams, benchmarking performance, and restricting organizations to improve efficiency, productivity, and profitability. Experienced transition leader and change agent. As principal of Nova Advisors, LLC I’ve assembled an exemplary team that brings with them the knowledge and experience gained from starting up a Global Sourcing program with multiple Fortune 500 companies as well as the largest supplier network throughout the Asia-Pacific region. We have experience and expertise in more than a thousand medical and pharmaceutical products in manufacturing and sourcing at the best value. The right product, the right price point and the right branding fueled these successes that resulted in double-digit growth for top line sales and bottom line net margins for our customers. What sets us apart: • Our reach includes a large network of suppliers & manufacturers spanning 13 countries in Asia-Pacific region • We understand the manufacturing process and the business of the supplier and the buyer • Our company culture is based on quality assurance and our process is based on local quality control Our commitment is to be your partner offering the best products and services at the lowest cost. Contact me to discuss how we can make the global marketplace work for you. thomas@novaadvisors.com In addition, I am open to discussing opportunities in global sourcing, international marketing & sales, logistics and medical/pharma in Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Philippines & Japan. Aside from my work I enjoy piano, astronomy, physics, and assisting my daughters with their studies. SPECIALTIES: Global Sourcing, Supply Chain Management, Business Development, Marketing, Logistics, Global Networking, Market Development, Healthcare Solutions, Pharmaceuticals, Medical Devices, Technology, Asia, Southeast Asia, US and Canada
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