Sultan underscores private sector’s vital role in Asean
Azlan Othman

HIS Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam stressed the key role played by the private sector in Asean’s efforts for a prosperous business landscape.

In delivering a titah at the opening of the 10th Asean Business and Investment Summit yesterday at the International Convention Centre, His Majesty, who is also the Chairman of the Summit, said it is important to further deepen the linkages and dialogue between the government and business community, especially through stronger public-private partnerships that would bring benefit and opportunity to the region.

“I believe that the private sector could play a significant role in Asean’s efforts whether it is through projects that promote the participation of youth and women in the economy or those which address infrastructural needs for the benefit of the region’s poorest. After all, we have a stake in each other’s success.

“As governments, we would continue to work hard to ensure that you operate in a stable and flourishing economic environment and we urge you to think beyond profits and use your experiences and industry knowledge in ways that would support the public at large, such as initiatives to improve living standards and create opportunities for our people to contribute towards the region’s economic development.

“This Asean Business and Investment Summit provides an important and unique platform to achieve this,” the monarch added.

“Asean governments are committed to facilitating the way forward for businesses and we see all of you as valued partners in our endeavour to nurture a stable and secure environment where you can operate and thrive.”

Touching on the region’s economic situation, the ruler said over the past years, Asean countries have recovered from the global financial crisis and have adapted to new economic realities.

The region has performed relatively well in these uncertain times and investor sentiment remains very positive.

“Looking ahead, we remain committed to developing our resilience through deeper economic integration, strengthening financial, energy and food security, and above all, enhancing connectivity through our Masterplan to be realised in 2015.

“Our regional economic cooperation is one of the key pillars in Asean’s agenda, which underpins our eventual goal to establish the Asean Economic Community by 2015. We would continue to undertake new initiatives that support business, especially SMEs, by addressing barriers to participation and improving business mobility.

“Active regional engagement with key economies also plays an important role in ensuring Asean remains a vital part of the global economy,” the ruler said.

His Majesty also said to date, “we have completed free trade agreements with Australia and New Zealand, China, Japan and Korea as well as with India, all of which have created new opportunities to expand our trade and business linkages”.

“More recently, we have launched negotiations for an even wider and more ambitious trade agreement in the proposed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, which would bring our FTA partners into a single free trade area, and therefore ensure closer economic integration in East Asia.

“In this same spirit of cooperation and friendship, we call upon the business communities present to seize the opportunities provided for under these agreements, and in turn create new synergies in the global economy.

“Asean’s efforts in economic integration have enabled it to establish a firm footing in the global economy and enhance its competitiveness as a region. At the same time, Asean is well aware of the importance of ensuring continued peace and stability in the region, as a pre-requisite for supporting economic growth and development.

“Today the potential challenges to our economies are wide ranging and increasingly complex. For instance, we have seen how natural disasters and pandemic diseases have affected economies in the region. Concerns about securing jobs and food have caused political unrests. Elsewhere, nationalistic sentiments have threatened regional harmony.

“Therefore, it is imperative for Asean to enhance its community building efforts and contribute to the overall regional security architecture, especially by nurturing regional processes such as the East Asia Summit to ensure constructive and good relations,” His Majesty said.

In this regard, added his Majesty, Asean leaders have started discussions on an Asean Community beyond 2015 in order to anticipate and address the changing nature of the region’s political and economic environment.

“Our summit in October will provide an opportunity for leaders to advance Asean’s agenda to further strengthen regional peace, stability and prosperity. So over the next two days here in the sultanate, I hope all of you will use this opportunity to collaborate with each other and with us in government in preparing Asean for the Asian century. Collectively, we can ensure progress and prosperity for our people and our future together.”

Business leaders have convened for the two-day summit alongside the 45th Asean Economic Ministers meeting and this is the first time Brunei is hosting the Asean Business and Investment Summit. - Borneo Bulletin (21 August 2013)