The 17th ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN-BAC), held via videoconferencing on Friday under the chair of Vietnam, has highlighted the crucial role of the private sector in mitigating the devastating economic and social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and expediting the region’s economic recovery, and urged for more public-private sector cooperation.
In a statement on June 28, ASEAN-BAC 2020 chair Dr Doan Duy Khuong pressed for the establishment of the ASEAN High Level Special Commission on COVID-19 and emphasised the readiness of ASEAN-BAC and its partners to help the commission through the Special Business Advisory Board as a private-sector advisory body.
“The ASEAN chair was pleased to note that the practical recommendations to bring back confidence and trust in business operations related to ensuring health protocol measures, uninterrupted supply chains of essential goods and services, [as well as] provision of safety nets for impacted and vulnerable sectors are ‘very significant and can be utilised immediately’,” the council said.
Following the recommendations, ASEAN chair Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc of Vietnam thanked the ASEAN-BAC chair for putting together a package of actionable short-term recommendations and key elements of the Post Pandemic Economic Recovery Plan (ERP) with the support of joint business councils and partner sector champions.
On this, Malaysia’s Senior Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali, who spoke on behalf of Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, said that given the crucial role of the private sector, he fully supported the establishment of the High-Level Special Commission to ensure efficient and effective decision-making involved in undertaking such a huge responsibility.
“He stressed that time is of the essence for the finalisation of a concerted ERP [which] must be anchored on the Hanoi Plan of Action towards greater economic integration and supply chain connectivity,” ASEAN-BAC said.
ASEAN-BAC also called for the finalisation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) as soon as possible to unleash its potential to create more markets for ASEAN and enhance the region’s competitiveness precisely at this time when it is most needed.
“ASEAN-BAC strongly pushes for the finalisation of the RCEP but provides India all the opportunities to join up to the end of the year,” it added.
The ASEAN chair, on the other hand, urged ASEAN-BAC to continue cooperating closely with ASEAN and national governments for self-sufficiency and competitiveness as it draws up the ERP.
“I believe that with the determination of the governments, combined with the dynamism and flexibility of ASEAN businesses, we will together overcome the current challenges, thereby empowering and making ASEAN an attractive new destination for investors, contributing to the prosperity for all Asean economies and the ASEAN people and businesses,” he said in closing.