On 30 August 2021, Ng Woan Na (DFDL Regional Legal Adviser) participated as a representative speaker of the Malaysian – Thai Chamber of Commerce in the Indochina Malaysian Business Chambers (“MBCs“) E-Summit 2021. This event has brought together the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (the national trade promotion agency under the Ministry of International Trade and Industry), the Malaysian Ambassadors, and panelist speakers of business chambers from five jurisdictions (Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam).
With more than 200 participants, this session served as a vibrant and potent digital forum with discussions on the latest economic outlooks, areas of business opportunities and potential avenues of collaboration and synergies to be explored between MBCs across the Indochina region.
As the representative speaker for Thailand, Woan Na highlighted 12 targeted industries under Thailand 4.0 Policy and key investment opportunities – with particular emphasis on development of the Eastern Economic Corridor (“EEC“), the current most important flagship project of the Thai government. In the context of COVID-19, she discussed on Thailand’s economy projection and major factors contributing to the recovery of Thai economy.
A focus discussion was made on areas of possible collaboration amongst MBCs in capturing business opportunities across Indochina Region. In addressing this topic, Woan Na drew reference to an existing and operational model (i.e. the ASEAN Economic Community (“AEC“) framework), in terms of the extent of economic integration achieved between ASEAN member states through the ASEAN Free Trade Area (“AFTA“) platform as established under the AEC framework, and how collaboration between MBCs could mitigate the loopholes relating thereto (e.g. low utilization rate of AFTA as many companies were unaware of how to apply for tariff preferences).
To achieve an effective collaboration between MBCs, she proposed amongst others, an establishment of Joint Comprehensive Committee, a uniformed body overseeing the degree of economic integration between ASEAN member states and reporting such progress to the MATRADE for their further liaison with Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). The said Committee will conduct important roles (e.g. trade consultation and facilitation). On trade facilitation, attention was made to a research conducted by Bank of Ayudhya (commonly known as Krungsri Bank) on factors in enhancing a country’s competitiveness and sectoral potential to which the level of participation and position activities in global supply chain (i.e. supply chain strategy) was found to be the most important factor, thus highlighting the potential collaboration among member states in the regional supply chain.
On MBCs’ collaboration from the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (“RCEP“) perspective, Woan Na proposed to set up an ASEAN representative office in the key partners RCEP countries (i.e. China, Japan, Korea, Australia and New Zealand) in order to help Malaysia companies integrate into their markets, promote collaboration and tap into investments in third countries.
This informative session was followed by an active Q&A session that was highly appreciated and drew much engagement from the attendees.