Building a more resilient ASEAN

PHOTO CAPTION: ASEAN Business Advisory Council together with the Asean leaders during their interface held last Nov. 13.

This year, under Singapore’s chairmanship, led by Robert Yap, ASEAN Business and Investment Summit 2018 revolved around the theme of “Building Tomorrow, Connecting Today,” which encapsulated ASEAN-BAC’s vision to adopt innovation in building a more resilient ASEAN. It also signifies the organization’s will to take immediate action in working towards ASEAN’s brighter and more competitive future.

I joined one of the forums at the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit last Nov. 12, at Marina Bay Sands. Together with Shinta Widjaja Kamdani (Sintesa Group), Tony Cripps (HSBC Singapore), Chia Boon Chong (Singtel) and fellow ASEAN BAC chair Oudet Souvannavong (ASEAN BAC Lao PDR), we focused on the topic: Responsible Business for a Resilient ASEAN. At the forum, we discussed sustainable business practices that could help MSMEs address the challenges and opportunities of the changing global economic climate.

Trade Sec. Ramon Lopez did a great job in explaining the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership during his forum with Singapore Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing and Malaysia International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Darell Leiking, who are both quite young. I commend our partner countries in bringing in new and young blood to the government.

Aside from the discussions, the Philippines bagged the most number of awards at the recently concluded ASEAN Business Awards 2018. Eight out of 21 awards were given to our Filipino entrepreneurs and their companies including: Pioneer Adhesives Inc., Seaoil Philippines of Glenn Yu, Jollibee Foods Corp. of Tony Tan Caktiong, International Container Terminal Services Inc. of Enrique Razon, Wilcon Depot of William Belo, CARD MRI of Jaime Alip, and Coffee for Peace of Joji Pantoja. The grand award for family enterprise across ASEAN was given to Century Pacific Foods Inc., led by its founder Ricardo Po Sr. who personally received the award.

We actually had the most number of nominations this year. Through the help of the Go Negosyo team, we were able to send more than 100 nominees out of the 280 total nominees in ASEAN. And with the help of our Pilipinas Angat Lahat Alliance, especially the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, all our efforts to showcase Philippines’ ingenuity and excellence are paying off.

From these achievements, we can see that the momentum in entrepreneurship development is moving at a much faster pace. With the help of the government through Sec. Lopez and the Department of Agriculture with Secretary Manny Piñol, we are moving in the right direction. We still have a long ways to go, but with the continuous support of our alliance of business organizations and chambers, we will succeed.

Yearly, the ASEAN BAC has the opportunity to discuss matters and concerns with the leaders of every member country in ASEAN. I shared with the leaders the efforts of the Philippines legacy project last year, which is the ASEAN Mentorship for Entrepreneurs Network (AMEN).

ASEAN Business Advisory Council Philippines chairman Joey Concepcion, Century Pacific Food’s executive chairman Chris Po and chairman emeritus Ricardo Po, together with Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad.

ASEAN BAC also recently signed an agreement with Singapore Polytechnic to bring an online entrepreneurship program to universities and colleges across the region. The Philippines will be the first to implement the program which aims to prepare the youth for the fourth industrial revolution. I am sure that this is a game-changer that other countries can also adopt in the future.

Likewise, Vietnam has confirmed to host the next ASEAN Agriculture Summit which the Philippines organized that past two years. We will co-chair it with them. Additionally, Philippines will also launch the ASEAN Tourism Summit in 2019, with Thailand as the co-chair.

AMEN is operating as we had envisioned. Programs are being shared across the region in order to create a stronger network of entrepreneurs that will help our micro, small and medium enterprises scale up.

I want to thank my fellow ASEAN BAC Philippines council members Tessie Sy-Coson and George Barcelon, who, despite their busy schedules, made an effort to be at our events and engagements, both local and international. In addition, Tessie initiated the donation of ASEAN BAC Philippines to Indonesia in response to the recent calamity that hit the country. In my two years serving the council, I understand that the key to ASEAN integration is relationship and trust. Gestures like these will further solidify relationships and build greater trust among countries.

We congratulate Singapore and Robert Yap and his team for successfully hosting ASEAN in their country. As Thailand takes over the chairmanship, we promise to continue to work together with them and seek further assistance on how to boost our tourism and agriculture.