Myanmar prepares to host ASEAN summit

Global Business

Myanmar is preparing to welcome world leaders as a first-time host of the 25th summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN.

The Nov. 12-13 summit is a milestone for the country and for ASEAN, as the association prepares to move forward with an integration plan by 2015. CCTV America’s Andy Saputra reported this story from Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar.

As the ASEAN host country, Myanmar will be able to show how it has left seclusion and crippling sanctions behind after ending military rule in 2011 and freeing many political prisoners.

While 80 percent of the Initiative for ASEAN Integration has been completed, the association is racing to complete the rest before a 2015 deadline. The plan calls for narrowing the development gap and accelerating economic integration of newer members, including Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam.

“Challenges remain in implementing the remaining 20 percent of the targets and addressing the issues that will emerge in the Post 2015 ASEAN Community,” Myanmar’s President Thein Sein said.

Addressing those challenges will be the main focus of the 25th ASEAN summit. While uniting 10 vastly different economies and governmental systems is a daunting task, one of ASEAN’s biggest strength has always been its economic cooperation. Leaders must be able to agree and facilitate a solution to the region’s many divisive issues, including conflicts in the South China Sea.

“ASEAN also needs to play a greater role in the international arena by taking more united stand in addressing issues of common concern and interest,” Sein said.

Myanmar prepares to host ASEAN summit

Myanmar is preparing to welcome world leaders as a first-time host of the 25th summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN. The Nov. 12-13 summit is a milestone for the country and for ASEAN, as the association prepares to move forward with an integration plan by 2015. CCTV America’s Andy Saputra reported this story from Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar.


ASEAN countries face challenges in economic integration

ASEAN nations have until December 2015 to integrate the free movement of goods, services, and labor across Southeast Asia. While the potential for growth is immense, there are also great risks. CCTV America’s Andy Saputra interviewed one of the biggest garment companies in Indonesia to gauge the readiness of such integration.

Delami currently has over 900 outlets around the Indonesia, but it began from humble beginnings when President Thomas Fairal’s father launched the company. Fairal said he has some concerns about the ASEAN integration plans.

“For 250 million people living here, it’s the single biggest market in ASEAN. I think we’ll take it as this is a competition, so we just need to focus on this market first, we should be able to be the major players in our own market,” he said.

Labor competitiveness will be a big challenge to economic integration. With open borders, harsher competition will leave thousands unemployed. Development gaps in other countries, including Myanmar, are also a concern.

“Probably for some people, if the government said we’re ready, it means from their perspective. But now this is a homework for the new government. Do they believe that progress, or do they need to evaluate it first,” said Beginda Pakpahan, a political and economic analyst at University of Indonesia.

ASEAN countries face challenges in economic integration

ASEAN nations have until December 2015 to integrate the free movement of goods, services, and labor across Southeast Asia. While the potential for growth is immense, there are also great risks. CCTV America’s Andy Saputra interviewed one of the biggest garment companies in Indonesia to gauge the readiness of such integration.


Some banks have begun ASEAN integration plans

As ASEAN moves toward becoming an integrated economic community by 2015, The banking and financial sector has lagged behind and has been dogged by protectionism. The financial sector is only ready to be open to unfettered ASEAN competition by 2020. However some countries and banks are already preparing. CCTV America’s Rian Maelzer reported this story from Kuala Lumpur.

CIMB Group, a universal bank headquartered in Kuala Lumpur, is aiming to merge with the RHB Banking Group and a third, smaller bank to become Malaysia’s largest banking group.

The group would also be the largest among ASEAN nations after three Singaporean banks, and would create what observers are dubbing a “mega Islamic bank”.

“Malaysia is aiming to become a global financial center especially for Islamic finance, we find that the thrust toward having mega banks is becoming more a necessity now given the need to actually set up regional banks that can compete effectively,” said economist Yeah Kim Leng.

Several Malaysian banks have been branching out into ASEAN countries, with CIMB and the country’s largest bank, Maybank, leading the way. However, it’s not been easy, given uneven and often shifting regulations, and continuing protectionism.

Indonesia has tightened regulations on foreign ownership of domestic banks, reducing the maximum permissible stake from 99-40 percent. The Philippines has gone in the opposite direction and will now allow 100 percent foreign ownership of domestic banks.

Malaysia for its part has been steadily liberalizing its financial services sector, while Singapore has been the most open in ASEAN policies.

“Eventually, I think those countries that have opened up ahead will be in a better position to be able to withstand competition as compared to those who are still at the latter stage or have just started to liberalize,” said Kelvin Ong, a banking analyst at MIDF.

Analysts believe a more integrated banking and financial sector will not only boost opportunities, but also be critical to driving further economic integration among ASEAN countries.

Some banks have begun ASEAN integration plans

As ASEAN moves toward becoming an integrated economic community by 2015, The banking and financial sector lagged behind and is dogged by protectionism. However while the financial sector is not required to be open to unfettered ASEAN competition until 2020, some countries and banks are already preparing. CCTV America’s Rian Maelzer reported this story from Kuala Lumpur.


David Dollar of Brookings discusses US-China economic relations

CCTV America interviewed David Dollar, senior fellow on foreign policy and global economy and development at Brookings Institution, about ASEAN economic integration as well as Chinese President Xi’s new initiatives in the region.

David Dollar of Brookings discusses US-China economic relations

CCTV America interviewed David Dollar, senior fellow on foreign policy and global economy and development at Brookings Institution, about ASEAN economic integration as well as Chinese President Xi’s new initiatives in the region.


Jia Xiudong of CIIS discusses ASEAN summit

Jia Xiudong, senior fellow with China Institute of International Studies spoke to CCTV America about key issues on the agenda for this year’s ASEAN summit.

Jia Xiudong of CIIS discusses ASEAN summit

Jia Xiudong, Senior fellow with China Institute of international studies spoke to CCTV America about what is on agenda for this year's ASEAN summit.