ASEAN IN FOCUS

ASEAN tackles how to better inform SMEs about integration

“The need to better inform SMEs or small and medium-sized enterprises about the developments of the ASEAN Economic Community has been raised repeatedly by high-level ASEAN bodies including the ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting. The question on how this can be achieved is now slowly being answered. One of these attempts to answer this question was addessed when representatives from the ASEAN SME Agencies Working Group (SMEWG), the ASEAN Secretariat, and private sector bodies at the […]

Vietnam’s education system: still under construction

Author: David Brown, California (Courtesy East Asia Forum) — For Vietnamese youth, a university degree is the entry ticket to the middle class and a promise (often unfulfilled) of an urban professional job. Enrolment in higher education has grown from 162,000 in 1992 to over two million last year, some 25 per cent of the nation’s college-age population. Business, finance and foreign trade degrees are prized, a consequence of the Vietnamese economy’s globalisation. To meet demand […]

Moving too slowly towards an ASEAN Economic Community

Author: Jayant Menon, Asian Development Bank (Courtesy East Asia Forum) — Launched as a political bloc and security pact in the aftermath of the Vietnam War, ASEAN has evolved to embrace an ambitious economic agenda. Its latest project is to establish the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) by 31 December 2015. But is this likely? The blueprint for achieving the goal envisages the AEC standing on four pillars and meeting the deadline depends on progress on each of them. […]

Reform-minded outsider Widodo takes over as Indonesia’s president

BY FERGUS JENSEN AND FRANSISKA NANGOY (Reuters) – Indonesia’s Joko Widodo took over as president of the world’s third-largest democracy on Monday with supporters’ hopes high but pressing economic problems and sceptical rivals set to test the former furniture businessman. Widodo won a narrow victory over a former general in a July election with promises of clean government and tackling entrenched interests. It was the first time in the young democracy’s history that a president […]

Why abolishing direct local elections undermines Indonesia’s democracy

Authors: Jonathan Chen and Adhi Priamarizki, RSIS (Courtesy East Asia Forum) — A bill that will transfer the election of local leaders in Indonesia from the people to the Regional Legislative Councils is currently being contested. The Indonesian parliament passed the bill to end direct local elections on 26 September. But outgoing President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono announced on 30 September that he is preparing an emergency presidential decree to overturn the decision and restore elections. Direct […]

Initiatives to strengthen trade with key ASEAN partners gaining momentum

QUEZON CITY, 12 Oct. (PIA)- After the visit of Indonesian Vice Minister for Commerce Bayu Krishnamurti, Vietnam’s Ministry of Trade Vice Minister Tran Tuan Anh arrived recently to meet with trade officials from the Philippines. “We have been actively engaging our key ASEAN partners to provide greater market access for our exporters and SMEs. Our dialogues with Vietnam focus on expanding our market access particularly for flour and processed fish,” Undersecretary for Trade and Industry Adrian […]

Agri sector preparing for ASEAN Economic Integration by end-2015, Alcala says

QUEZON CITY,  Oct. 12 — Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala assured the agribusiness sector and its development partners that the government has been working to better prepare the agri-fishery for fast-liberalizing global trade, including the much-anticipated ASEAN economic integration by end of 2015.  Speaking at the opening ceremony of the 21st AgriLink, Foodlink and AquaLink trade show Thursday at World Trade Center in Pasay City, Alcala said the DA has intensified the small farm clustering initiative and […]

Bali Democracy Forum manifests will of united Asian people, says President Aquino

The democracy forum in Bali manifests People Power, as it harnesses the resolve of the Asian people to attain a free and opportunity-laden region, President Benigno S. Aquino III said on Friday.“What we continue to demonstrate here, I believe, is one of the many manifestations of People Power: of harnessing our united resolve towards a democratic regional community, one where our respective peoples fully enjoy the freedoms borne of democratic aspirations, where our peoples have […]

Aquino: “Indonesia has indeed been a true friend to my people”

President Benigno S. Aquino III and fellow leaders in the Asia-Pacific region were welcomed by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at the opening session of the 7th Bali Democracy Forum Friday morning, where he paid tribute to the Indonesian leader as a “big brother.” President Aquino was greeted by President Yudhoyono upon his arrival at the Bali International Convention Center for the opening of this year’s forum.    President Yudhoyono officially opened the 7th Bali […]

ASEAN and China Sign Agreement on Disaster Management

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations and China signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Disaster Management Cooperation on Monday, Oct. 6, underscoring the importance of disaster management in light of recent calamities and natural disasters. ASEAN Secretary General Le Luong Minh hailed the signing of the MOU as a “milestone in the developing partnership with China in the area of disaster management.”  The signing ceremony took place at the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta, Indonesia. “The […]

Kerry stresses U.S. involvement at ASEAN business dinner

(Reuters) — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry emphasized the importance of investing in Southeast Asia at the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council 30th Anniversary Gala reception at the Four Seasons Hotel in Washington Thursday night. (October 2). “We are going to be in Burma, the president and I are going to be there, a month from now. We are looking forward to being in China likewise in November for the APEC conference. We will be there for the East Asia summit. We are front and center and […]