Passing the baton

PHOTO CAPTION: New ASEAN BAC chairman Dr. Robert Yap with former ASEAN BAC chair Joey Concepcion

Last year was a highlight year for MSME development as it was at the front and center of the ASEAN chairmanship of the Philippines. Both the government and the private sector, most especially the ASEAN Business Advisory Council, focused on programs that would equip our micro and small entrepreneurs and contribute to the ultimate goal of prosperity for all.

While it was a successful 50th anniversary chairmanship, we still need to pass the baton to the next country, Singapore, which will chair this year’s ASEAN. Singapore is known for its innovative, competitive and dynamic economy which has helped the country rise and become one of the leading economies in Southeast Asia.

Last week, I officially turned over the chairmanship to Dr. Robert Yap, executive chairman of logistics company YCH Group and now the current chairman of ASEAN BAC.

During the ASEAN Outlook Conference organized by the Singapore Business Federation and ASEAN BAC Singapore, together with co-council members Arin Jira (ASEAN BAC Thailand), Oudet Souvannavong (ASEAN BAC Lao PDR), and Nick Nash (SEA Limited), Robert and I shared our insights on trends and opportunities in the ASEAN market. It was the first event they organized for their chairmanship and it was even graced by their senior minister of State Ministry of Trade and Industry and Ministry of National Development, Dr. Koh Poh Koon.

Following the discussion was a networking night where I ceremonially handed the ASEAN BAC flag to Robert. The ceremony was attended by Singapore’s Minister of Trade and Industry Lim Hng Kiang.

Just like how Go Negosyo acted as the secretariat of the Philippines’ council, the Singapore Business Federation will be their council’s secretariat and will organize seminars, conferences and trade shows for ASEAN government leaders and businessmen.

In photo are moderator Tay Woon Teck (RSM Singapore) with Dr. Robert Yap (ASEAN BAC Singapore), Joey Concepcion (ASEAN BAC Philippines), Arin Jira (ASEAN BAC Thailand), Oudet Souvannavong (ASEAN BAC Lao PDR and Nick Nash (SEA Limited).

In photo are moderator Tay Woon Teck (RSM Singapore) with Dr. Robert Yap (ASEAN BAC Singapore), Joey Concepcion (ASEAN BAC Philippines), Arin Jira (ASEAN BAC Thailand), Oudet Souvannavong (ASEAN BAC Lao PDR and Nick Nash (SEA Limited).

In his speech, ASEAN BAC 2018 chairman Dr. Robert Yap focused on the impact of technology in the business landscape of ASEAN.

“Technology is fast disrupting the business landscape globally. ASEAN is not spared from the impact of the new technology and new business models which have been disrupting many traditional businesses,” Dr. Yap said. After mentioning technology companies in ASEAN such as SEA, Grab, GoJek and Tokopedia, he added, “They are excellent examples to prove that the digitalization wave is already in ASEAN and businesses would have to look at how to adopt, adapt and advance.”

As we all know, Singapore is one of the countries who has expertise in technology and digitalization. By focusing on this area, we can better create market linkages and facilities for our micro and small entrepreneurs. The traditional businesses, or the brick and mortar type of business models, are slowly being influenced to go digital so they will be able to cope with the changing market.

More and more companies incorporate digital solutions to improve their business processes. Just like how we are now leaning towards cashless transactions through digital payment solutions such as PayMaya or GCash, or by providing online platforms for MSMEs like Shopee or Lazada.

If we can create more digital business models and business solutions which our micro and small entrepreneurs can benefit from, we open them to endless possibilities and more opportunities. We improve their models, making them ready for ASEAN competition.

Together with the whole ASEAN BAC Philippines, we pledge our support to the chairmanship of Singapore. They have been a great partner during our time.

We look forward to how ASEAN BAC Singapore will host the ASEAN Business Awards and ASEAN Business and Investment Summit!