Bloomberg CEO Forum: ASEAN's Role in Global Trade

6 September 2023
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Jakarta, 6 September 2023: Bloomberg CEO forum on 'International Trade with ASEAN' was being held in Fairmont Hotel Jakarta. The event began with a one-on-one conversation with Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment of Indonesia, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan. He mainly discussed Indonesia's downstream policies.

The Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and South Asia's (ERIA) Lead Advisor for Southeast Asia Dr Lili Yan Ing took part in the first parallel session along with two other speakers, Senior Vice President-Policy of the US-ASEAN Business Council Marc Mealy and Chairman of the UK-ASEAN Business Council Ed Vaizey. The session was moderated by K Oanh Ha.

Dr Ing explained that ASEAN recorded a growth of 5,7% in 2022. The strong economic growth last year was due a combination of good policy and good luck. Good policy was demonstrated by low debt-to-GDP ratios and stable fiscal deficits over the past two decades, from 2000 to 2022, which were recorded at the average of 60% and 1.9%, respectively. The good luck part was due to increased exports, particularly driver by rising commodities prices, such as palm oil and coal, which represented a short-term advantage for ASEAN. To maintain stable economic growth, ASEAN should improve their export competitiveness. In 2023 and 2024, ASEAN is estimated to grow at 4,6% and 4.7%, as the Chinese economy will be slowing down.

Ed noted a significant increase in ASEAN exports, driven by a strategic focus on the region. The UK's recent entry into the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) highlighted a shift toward strengthening relations with ASEAN countries. He also discussed potential areas of collaboration, such as education, financial services, construction, and green energy, emphasizing the growing depth of the relationship between the UK and ASEAN.

Mark examined the role of digitalization in ASEAN's progress as a trade power, with digitalization presenting opportunities for both local and international corporations, especially in infrastructure and e-commerce. Ed and Mark also highlighted the importance of government and policy measures to support this growth, including harmonization, infrastructure planning, regulatory standardization, and simplified visas.

Dr Ing highlighted the challenges posed by the proliferation of protectionist measures in trade in goods, trade in services, and investment at in the world as well as in the ASEAN region. She underscored the importance of interoperability across systems and the harmonization of goods standards to address these challenges and encourage trade and investment in the region.

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