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ADB: Over half of businesses surveyed not aware of Asean Economic Community
Publication Date : 17-12-2013
The lack of interest in Asean developments among business communities within Asean has been cited as a possible cause behind the slow progress of implementing the Asean Economic Community (AEC) 2015, said the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
The international financial institution conducted a survey to find out whether business firms within the region were aware of the AEC 2015. The survey’s findings are discussed in a recent online publication titled “The Asean Economic Community: A Work in Progress”.
“There is concern that part of the reason for the slow progress of implementing AEC 2015 may have to do with the Asean business community showing little or no interest in Asean developments,” a summary of the survey said.
The development bank said that a key finding in the survey was that there was a “general lack of awareness of AEC 2015 in the Asean business community.”
ADB gave as an example that it was more likely for respondent firms to be aware of the free trade agreements (FTAs) between Asean and the People’s Republic of China than of AEC 2015.
“By relating the likelihood of the firms’ awareness of AEC 2015 to their exposure to the Asean economic integration, we find that the awareness of AEC 2015 increases to the extent that the firms are affected by regional, cross-border economic issues,” said ADB. The actual process of integration is what drives the business community’s interest in AEC, it added.
“We can infer from this (survey) that the lack of awareness of AEC 2015 in the business community can be attributed to the lack of actual economic integration,” ADB said.
These results support the argument that the top-down approach to Asean economic integration has its limitations, especially when the business communities’ engagement in cross-border economic activities lags behind the visions of Asean politicians, the regional bank added.
The primary concerns of the respondent firms were non-tariff barriers, including different regulatory standards, excessive regulation and lack of information about foreign business environments.
The survey was carried out in nine Asean member states, with a total 381 firms, said ADB.
Overall, more than half or 55 per cent of the respondents said they were not aware of AEC 2015.
Most of the questionnaires were filled out by senior management members in the respondent firms.
The survey was designed according to the various firm characteristics, their operating environment, and in particular the extent to which they were engaged in Asean economic integration.