Businesses should embrace the significant advantages that the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) offers, according to Niceto S. Poblador, a former Professor of Management at the University of Philippines Mindanao.

In his recent editorial “Bracing for the ASEAN economic integration”, Poblador highlighted that the establishment of the AEC “opens up great opportunities for accelerated and sustained growth” and helps by “promoting equitable economic growth within the region”.

Commenting on discussions had at the recently concluded 11th Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) International CEO conference, he states that the establishment of the AEC potentially presents challenges for local businesses, exposing them to “unfettered competition which they fear they are ill-prepared to deal with”. However, he adds “we believe the potential benefits of the AEC far outweigh the perceived problems and difficulties associated with it”.

Poblador also noted that with the creation of a single ASEAN market, consumers also stand to gain as it will create further incentives for businesses to “develop creative and innovative products and services” as they willhave to compete with a number of new players in the market.

Philippine Chamber of Food Manufacturers (“Philippines Food Chamber”) President, Ms Edith de Leon, agrees that ASEAN countries, and businesses should focus on the benefits of integration. There is also the need for Member States to assist in preparing their local industries, particularly small and medium enterprises (SMEs), to tap into the benefits of the AEC as well as that of a single production base, she noted.

“The AEC helps to establish a ‘level playing field’ across the region, creating a culture of fair business competition for among the ASEAN member states and ultimately enhancing the region’s economic performance.

“Integration will make it easier for new players to enter into a market, which not only opens up significant growth opportunities for ASEAN companies of all sizes; it also encourages innovation and development. This leads to more efficient production and a wider variety of high quality products for consumers,” she said.

Ms De Leon, ASEAN Food and Beverage Alliance (AFBA) Chairperson for the Philippines, added that the ASEAN Food and Beverage Alliance was established to support the AEC goals, and to ensure that the industry is able to feed into the integration process.

“The food industry employs more than four million people, through 300,000 companies in ASEAN and has an extremely important role to play in the overall economic development of the region.

“AFBA brings together food and beverage groups from the ten member states to not only provide constructive input into proposed food laws and standards but to also cascade information on the integration process to local businesses through their members.

“By working to strengthen partnerships between Governments and national industry associations and promoting awareness and dialogue on the scientific and regulatory issues underpinning the food sector, AFBA aims to help facilitate the establishment of the AEC and encourage the free-flow of food products across the region,” she said.

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