Malaysian Prime Minister Razak Wants to Make ASEAN “Real & Relevant” to All

Photo Caption: Malaysia Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Najib Tun Razak delivered the keynote speech in the morning session of the summit. His Excellency Prime Minister Razak said that ASEAN must “raise awareness… and to make it feel real, relevant, and tangible, to all our citizens.”

Prime Minister Najib Razak of Malaysia delivered the first keynote address at the recently held summit hosted by the ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN-BAC) for MSME development. His speech focused on making the very theme of the event, “prosperity for all” a reality.

Painting a picture of the current economic landscape of the ASEAN, Razak gave positive indications that highlight the continued growth and progress ASEAN has schieved in its 50 years of existence. In fact, the ASEAN as a regional bloc is poised to become a US$2.7 trillion economy and the fourth largest in the world by 2050 (Razak said some experts even predict this happening by 2030).

With these optimistic projections, as Razak posited, comes the challenge of making them happen. Amongst the challenges towards ensured economic prosperity for our region such as trade barriers and the facilitation of further intra-ASEAN trade, is the most pressing issue of eliminating the rising non-tarrif barriers and measures.

To address these challenges, Razak brought the spotlight to the MSMEs — the heart of the summit and the backbone of the ASEAN economies. In Malaysia, Razak said SMEs accounted for 97% of their businesses and contribute 36% of their country’s GDP. Malaysia has taken great steps in ensuring that wealth and progress are felt by all their people — as Malaysia continues to prosper their incidence of poverty has shrunk into an infinitesimal 0.6%.

Razak also lauded the Philippines, the ASEAN-BAC and Go Negosyo for giving special attention to bring prosperity for all segments of society. Most importantly, Razak gave recognition to the ASEAN Mentorship for Entrepreneurs Network. As MSMEs comprise more than 90% of all ASEAN companies, having them exposed to greater opportunities and to better management methods from big companies.

In hopes of making the regional bloc and all its benefits real to all ASEAN citizens, Razak asserted the call to make prosperity and wealth shared to all. To ensure the stability and further growth of the region, the ASEAN must become meaningful to all citizens and this can only be done through actualizing prosperity for all.