As part of the celebration, a conference was held in Singapore to examine the progress of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), the opportunities it presented and the legal pitfalls to be avoided.
The conference’s keynote address was delivered by the Guest of Honour, H.E. Dr. AKP Mochtan,
Deputy Secretary General of ASEAN for Community and Corporate Affairs. Topics discussed ranged from updates on the implementation of ASEAN FTAs, negotiations on Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the current ASEAN economic situation in an integrated ASEAN Community. The conference featured speakers and panellists such as Chris Humphrey, Executive Director of EU-ASEAN Business Council, Benjamin Yap, Senior Partner of PBC Partners & RHTLaw, Philip Teoh, Partner of Azmi & Associates, and Jusuf Wanandi, Co-Founder and Senior Fellow of Centre for Strategic & International Studies.
The general consensus was that despite hurdles, the AEC will get there but not in full flourish. Manu Bhaskaran, Founding Director and Chief Executive Officer of Centennial Asia Advisors, asked a relevant question, “Do you want to see it as half empty or half full?” The consensus was that it was better to look at it as half full.
RHTLaw Taylor Wessing Deputy Managing Partner and Chairman of the ASEAN Plus Group Mr. Azman Jaafar said, “There is a strong positive relationship between connectivity and community building for the ASEAN Plus Group. The establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community reflects the importance placed on ASEAN’s continued relevance in the global economy. Together, the ASEAN Economic Community needs to seize the opportunities offered by its geographical and comparative advantages whilst meeting the competitive challenges of the global market head-on.”
“With the ASEAN Economic Community and other major policy initiatives, we firmly believe that both the public and private sectors are committed to a more integrated ASEAN. We are highly confident in the future for this region, and that now is the ideal time for doing business in Asia.”
The ASEAN Plus Group is a group of eight leading regional law firms with offices in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan and Vietnam. The ASEAN Plus Group comprises over 750 professionals throughout the region in nine cities.