ASEAN: the creation of a regional powerhouse
As our November/December issue hits your desks thoughts are turning to the completion of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), the deadline for which is set for 31st December. Since its founding in 1967 the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has aimed to foster economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region; to promote regional peace and stability and to provide assistance to each other, amongst other aims.
The diversity of the region, from the lavish wealth of Singapore through to the emerging economies of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, has thrown up various issues for corporates operating across it. Yet it also offers significant opportunity in a market where the certainty that China could deliver endless growth opportunities has diminished and doubt has crept in, this means that corporates are looking elsewhere and attention is moving to ASEAN.
The AEC seeks to transform the region into a place of free movement of goods, services, investment, skilled labour and a more free flow of capital. Signed by all ASEAN members back in 2007, the charter set out the goal of regional economic integration by 31st December 2015 and this could change everything for this region as the removal of restrictions on trade, investment, people and capital flows provide huge opportunities for the countries, the corporates operating in them and the banks lending to them.
It must be noted however that for now big challenges for corporates still remain. For instance, cash remains non-transferable, both in and out in a number of countries, regulation remains diverse and complex, and a lack of harmonisation in technological systems is making integration of these challenging.
Despite this, the momentum is clearly growing around the AEC, whether the whole of ASEAN can exceed the sum of its parts remains to be seen. However, no matter how the AEC develops, creating a dialogue around harmonising the region can only lead to good things and we look forward to see what happens after 31st December deadline passes. For a more in depth view of ASEAN please refer to our Know the Region section.
On 12th November our Adam Smith Awards Asia Gala Presentation Lunch was held in Singapore at the Four Seasons Hotel. We would like to congratulate all this year’s Overall Winners and Highly Commended Winners and to thank everybody who submitted. The Adam Smith Awards Asia have become the benchmark for industry excellence in the Asia Pacific region and we are delighted to celebrate the accomplishments, creativity, determination and resilience in treasury transformation and growth.
The future of treasury
Treasury Today Asia was delighted to hold our first Talking Treasury Forum in the region at Sibos this year. The forum brought together a number of the region’s most senior transaction bankers to discuss the major trends in cash management and what corporate treasurers should be focusing on in the coming years. It is a must read for all corporate treasurers operating in the region and will be featured in full in the January/February issue of Treasury Today Asia.