ASEAN, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, was founded in 1967 “to strengthen further the existing bonds of regional solidarity and cooperation.” From the original five member countries, ASEAN has grown to ten members (Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore, Philippines, malaysia, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia, Brunei) covering more than 1.7 million square miles—over half the size of the continental United States—and a population of 626 million with an economy valued at $2.4 trillion.  The ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), which was implemented last December 2015, aims to create one of the largest single market economies in the world, facilitating the free movement of goods, services, and professionals.

The Philippines is hosting the  ASEAN’s 50th Golden Years Anniversary  this 2017.  As a founding member of ASEAN and one of the largest members, it is fitting that the Philippines is the chair during such an auspicious anniversary and President Rodrigo Roa Duterte last year accepted the chairmanship with open arms. It means a lot for the Filipino people especially can showcase how economically stable the country is and to showcase the skills and achievements of the people.

 The challenge for the Philippines is to raise public awareness of ASEAN’s important role so that people take pride in being center stage this year.  The eyes of the world will be on the Philippines.

Yesterday at Conrad Hotel Manila, I got a chance to attend the Business Council Launch Dinner with 170 leaders in the Philippine business sector. Since the Philippines is this year host for the 50 years anniversary of ASEAN and the different departments from the government convened and organized to help this celebration to be successful with a planned one whole year of festivities, conferences and meetings.

The launch yesterday was well attended with the likes of Manny V. Pangilinan of MVP Group of Companies, Senator Migz Subiri, Senator Angara, Presidential adviser for entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion, RFM Corporation main man Joey Concepcion Sr, CLL Group of Companies Chairman Christian Leynes and his head for LGUs Manny Fernandez, Mercato Centrale RJ Ledesma, Calata Corporation Joseph Calata, DTI Assistant Secretary Nora Terrada, Philippine Chamber of Commerce President George Barcelon, ASEAN BAC Executive Director Gil Gonzales, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella who spoke in behalf of President Rodrigo Duterte and more.

As for me, this is for the good of all countries under ASEAN. All ten countries have programs and celebrations for the whole year and launching different activities already. What’s in it for us? Check the following;

  1. Exposure of various strength of the ASEAN countries which could mean more investors and more jobs.
  2. Attract more foreign direct investment to ASEAN because of the solidarity.
  3. Free trade agreement. If your’e an entrepreneur or have business to other ASEAN countries could mean, priority with less tax or tariffs and to increase the competitive edge as a production base in the world market through the elimination, within ASEAN, of tariffs and non-tariff barriers.
  4. Priority is the citizens welfare as the key to nations progress.
  5. A model of regionalism and global player to showcase capacites as the global player in international arena.

ASEAN BAC with Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) as its partner developed programs on micro and small entrepreneurs, women, youth, and inclusive business. Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez who is very active and aggressive in the promotion and program for ASEAN 50 said during the Malacanang launch last Tuesday, January 24, 2017  “Philippines, through DTI, wants to highlight business programs and events that will complement the ASEAN efforts to champion the inclusion of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in the international trade, and the strengthened promotion of youth and women entrepreneurship.”


AUTHOR: Rizky Anggara
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