RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Deputy Managing Partner Azman Jaafar was interviewed by Channel NewsAsia and featured in an article titled "Slow start, but future remains bright for ASEAN Economic Community: Analysts".
The article makes reference to an interview with Channel NewsAsia on Singapore Tonight segment, where Azman shared his views on the impact of ASEAN Economic Community on local SMEs in Singapore.
The article was first published in Channel NewsAsia on 29th December 2016.
Slow start, but future remains bright for ASEAN Economic Community: Analysts
Source: Channel NewsAsia
Date: 29 December 2016
Author: Calvin Hui
SINGAPORE: Saturday (Dec 31) will mark the first year anniversary of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC).
Conceived as a single market and production base, the AEC is part of broader efforts to integrate ASEAN economies. But one year on from its inception, about 74 per cent of Singapore companies polled in a recent Singapore Business Federation (SBF) survey said they do not think the AEC has benefited them.
Associate Professor Simon Tay, chairman of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs (SIIA), said bigger companies have the capabilities to take advantage of opportunities from the AEC, but smaller business may not be so well equipped to do so.
“So the big test in the longer term will be whether the SMEs (small- and medium-sized enterprises) will be able to also play across the region,” he said. “And not just Singapore SMEs, (but also) Filipino SMEs, Indonesian SMEs.
“It will take some time because the integration is not just as deep. (There's) still too much bureaucracy and rules standing in the way. The tariffs, I think are gone, but these non-tariff measures are almost like barriers to deeper integration.”
RHTLaw Taylor Wessing’s deputy managing partner Azman Jaafar agreed that the lack of resources is a stumbling block for smaller companies. However, he added that it “just means that you have to be a little more ingenious”.
IMPORTANT TO CHANGE MINDSET
ASEAN’s market of more than 600 million people, and almost US$3 trillion in combined GDP, represents vast opportunities for companies from the city-state of Singapore. But Mr Azman, who is also chairman of the law firm’s ASEAN Plus Group, said local companies could have traditional business models that limits the extent of their expansion outside of Singapore.
“Local SMEs who want to benefit from the AEC must rethink how they are doing their business, and how they should change their mind set, and apply quite different rules of engagement,” he said.
Governments can also help to change these attitudes. Said Assoc Prof Tay: “Sometimes, SMEs, not just in Singapore but other countries - they are really on the defensive. Say (they) don't let people in, because I can't compete in my own home market.
“I think increasingly, governments have got to reassure SMEs that as the AEC opens up, they will be given assistance by ASEAN, by governments on the whole, to also go out and become more competitive, become more efficient on the whole about boundaries."
There is also the cultural diversity of the 10 member countries in ASEAN to consider, said Mr Azman. “When our local businesses are able to appreciate these differences, they are probably better placed to get into these markets,” he said.
LONG TERM OUTLOOK BRIGHT
Observers agree that it is premature to write off the AEC despite its slow start. "There's a right to get a bit disappointed with the AEC in the first year,” said Assoc Prof Tay. “But what makes me slightly optimistic is that, at the national level, different key economies have already started to see the need for reform."
Mr Azman emphasised that the push for the AEC to succeed must not come from just the governments, but other key stakeholders too. “It’s easy to say that the government has got to push this. But at the end of the day, a lot of things happens without government assistance.
“Within industries and within countries, if we keep discussing this, we open up the discussion across borders. This creates a level of awareness that’s very different from the level of awareness in a local forum.”
Azman's full feature can be found in the news report:
Singapore Tonight - Channel NewsAsia, 29 December 2016
RHTLaw Taylor Wessing is pleased to announce that its Partners, Napolean Koh, Jack Ow, Suleen Ding and Dennis Tan have been ranked in the 2016 edition of Singapore’s 70 most influential lawyers aged 40 and under list published by Singapore Business Review (SBR).
RHTLaw Taylor Wessing’s Litigation & Dispute Resolution Partner Napolean Koh, Intellectual Property & Technology Partner Jack Ow as well as Corporate Partners Suleen Ding and Dennis Tan and have been selected amongst a list of hundred nominees based on thought leadership, influence and success. Currently in its third year running, the list recognises 70 young lawyers who have the competency of not only representing themselves, but also Singapore.
Napolean is a Partner at the Litigation & Dispute Resolution Practice. He specialises in Building Construction, Infrastructure and Engineering Disputes. His main areas of practice encompass both front-end advisory work for various construction, infrastructure and energy-related projects, as well as contentious work involving owner-developers, consultants and contractors at various stages of proceedings and forums. In addition to having an active court presence, Napolean has also dealt with disputes employing and/or involving alternative forms of dispute resolution, such as arbitration, mediation and adjudication under the Building and Construction Industry Security of Payment Act (Cap 30B).
Jack is an Intellectual Property & Technology Partner at RHTLaw Taylor Wessing. He handles a broad spectrum of transactional and contentious matters in the areas of intellectual property (IP) and technology. He regularly advises on technology transactions, data protection and licensing, especially in the info-communication and technology (ICT) industries. As a Certified Information Privacy Technologist (CIPT) accredited by IAPP and having a keen interest in ICT developments, Jack believes in seeking customised legal solutions that take into account the challenges in design, deployment and auditing of IT products and services, while balancing the role that technology companies increasingly fill as arbiters of trust in today’s data-driven global economy.
Suleen is a Corporate Practitioner who specialises in cross-border mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures and foreign direct investments across the ASEAN region. She has assisted clients in putting together various legal documentation such as investment agreements, subscription agreements, shareholders’ agreements, joint venture agreements and sale and purchase agreements. Suleen has also led legal due diligence teams and coordinated cross-border transactions with professional advisors located in other jurisdictions. Clients she has skilfully and successfully advised include multinational corporations, regional listed companies and shareholders of some of the largest private companies in ASEAN.
Dennis is a Corporate Partner who specialises in Tax Planning & Advisory, Private Wealth and Corporate Technology. He has advised multinational corporate groups, sovereign wealth funds, PE firms, investment funds and financial institutions on international taxation issues. Dennis leverages on his international tax expertise in Private Wealth work, and advises ultra-high net worth families and their family offices on critical issues including private investments, governance, succession planning and wealth preservation. He also has an active US practice, and provides on-the-ground support to both US clients looking to grow internationally as well as international clients looking to further their US strategies.
The full rankings can be found online in the 19 December 2016 edition of Singapore Business Review Exclusives - 40 and Under Section.
RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Managing Partner Tan Chong Huat and Deputy Head of Banking & Finance Ow Kim Kit participated in the 21st ASEAN Banking Conference held on 27 and 28 November 2016 in Bangkok, Thailand. Lawyers from various law firms in the ASEAN Plus Group, namely, Hanafiah Ponggawa & Partners, RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Vietnam, Siam City Law Offices and VDB Loi, also participated in the conference, which was organised by the Thai Bankers’ Assocation.
Chong Huat was a speaker in one of the conference panel discussions titled “How can banks help to develop regional infrastructure?”. One of the issues discussed concerned the key impediments to private and commercial bank lending for public infrastructure projects.”