Going Global: ASEAN and the Future of MSMEs

April 8th, 2017

Radio Synthesis 07 Dr
Last March 29, 2017, Go Negosyo Radyo hosts Sen. Bam Aquino & DJ Cheska San Diego-Bobadilla were joined by ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN BAC) Executive Director Gil Gonzales and ASEAN Business Advisory Council Malaysia member and former Chair, Tan Sri Dato’ Dr. Munir Majid for the weekly episode of Go Negosyo sa Radyo on DZRH.

The prominent guests who are experts in the topic of business and the ASEAN, took upon the task of explaining the ASEAN, the ASEAN Economic Community, and integration to our listeners. Oftentimes, the nuanced and complex structure of the ASEAN can leave many Filipinos confused and consequently, misinformed of what the ASEAN and the forthcoming economic interdependence implies.

Many Filipino negosyantes wonder — how can foreign entrants into the Filipino market be beneficial for a small business like mine? Isn’t it anti-Filipino to make it harder for us micro and small enterprises to compete globally?

In the discussion between our hosts and guests, Executive Director Gonzales and Dr. Munir Majid shared insights to help Filipinos understand the real benefits and challenges presented by the changes brought about by ASEAN. Addressing the fears of the Filipinos, Dr. Munir Majid said “Why are you afraid? It’s not just ASEAN countries, but the whole integrated movement is worldwide. It’s happening everywhere — so we really must compete. Don’t be afraid—if you’re afraid you will lose. Take advantage of the financial advances and technologies that will be made more available.”

Gonzales also weighed in on the matter, saying “The fear is there because there is a lack of awareness of knowledge. But we have the support of the government and the private sector. The conversation about ASEAN needs to be alive and widespread, but we also have to progress; we have to move the conversation to how we can take advantage of the changing and opening market.”

“We have to be tough, we have to wish to be competitive! But there’s also lots of support especially from DTI and other government agencies,” Gonzalez added.

When asked how businesses can start to prepare for the changes, Gonzales said “First things first, you have to ask: who are my competitors? Go to PCCI and look for the association that corresponds to your business. Then look at who else in ASEAN does the same thing as you. The thinking should be partnerships rather than fighting for the market. We have to partner to raise our quality, standards, and production so we can reach global standards and penetrate the global market.”

Dr. Majid added “The various standards that different countries have could become a problem. To address this, one initiative is that we should have common standards. Agri-food business is something we’re concentrating on. For example, we’re removing certain tariff barriers. You really have to look at other countries and look at your competition. Assess how you can be efficient in your area because only then can you expand.”

In terms of the different institutions the MSMEs can approach for help, Dr. Majid said “Go Negosyo’s mentorship program is something great that [The Philippines] has because you get to sell and provide for an existing supply-chain. Another, is GAX a loan platform form Malaysia. Trade associations and your local chambers of commerce are also good starting points to look for assistance and to map out businesses similar to yours. Everybody is involved in the ASEAN Economic Agenda.”

Tan Sri Dato’ Dr. Munir Majid

Tan Sri Dato’ Dr. Munir Majid

In photo (L-R): ASEAN BAC Malaysia Member Tan Sri Dato’ Dr. Munir Majid, DJ Cheska San Diego-Bobadilla, ASEAN BAC Executive Director Gil Gonzales and Sen. Bam Aquino.

In photo (L-R): ASEAN BAC Malaysia Member Tan Sri Dato’ Dr. Munir Majid, DJ Cheska San Diego-Bobadilla, ASEAN BAC Executive Director Gil Gonzales and Sen. Bam Aquino.

So, what’s next for the ASEAN?
Dr. Majid posits that the “downside when your market is big, is that you sometimes want to get out. Philippines is quite behind in terms of tourism compared to other ASEAN countries and that’s something we can focus on.” Also, important events focused on business are the ASEAN Business and Investments Summit and the upcoming MSME Summit entitled Prosperity for All (read: ASEAN Summit on MSME Development in Manila).

Other future initiatives that were discussed was the ASEAN Mentors for Entrepreneurs Network (AMEN), which takes inspiration from the Kapatid Mentor Me Program and its capacity to link up the supply chains of the big and small.

Dr. Majid and Gonzales shared that the ASEAN, at its current rate of growth, could be the 4th biggest economy in the world by 2030.

The final question addressed by the ASEAN-BAC Executive Director was the supposed isolation of the Philippines. Gonzales agreed that the PH is a little isolated “It’s a little like Britain in the EU. But the distance is now being reduced and the markets are being brought closer together. So the distance will become less and less significant. That’s why there is a growing need for architects and engineers in order to boost the infrastructure development of the region.”

Dr. Majid, who was the previous ASEAN-BAC Chair, was asked what advise he had for current ASEAN-BAC Chair Joey Concepcion. “Joey is an old hand, he’s a great guy and he’s pursuing the MSME and shared prosperity targets. He has the support of Gil who’s a great management man. We have a lot of support from this council. If I can say one thing: Go Get! Make it Happen!

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Prosperity for All Summit Web Image
The Prosperity for All Summit is organized by the ASEAN Business Advisory Council, headed by its current Chair and the Philippine Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion. The summit is a one-day event focused on
Driving growth through micro and small entrepreneurs in Trade, Services and Agriculture”, and will be held in the City of Dreams, Manila, Philippines on April 28, 2017.

To register, accomplish the online form at www.tinyurl.com/AseanProsperityforAll-Public. For additional information on the Prosperity for All Summit, please contact: (+632) 6315001 or  info@asean-bac.org, or visit www.gonegosyo.net.