Asean business councils call for special high-level commission to coordinate Covid-19 response and economic recovery

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KUALA LUMPUR (May 21): The Asean Business Advisory Council (Asean BAC), together with various business councils, is urging for the establishment of a high-level special commission to better coordinate the Covid-19 response and post-pandemic economic recovery across Southeast Asia.

The business councils in support of this proposal include the Australia-Asean Business Council, AustCham Asean, Asean-New Zealand Business Council, Canada- Asean Business Council, EU-Asean Business Council, UK-Asean Business Council and US-Asean Business Council.

“Economic recovery will not be quick and simple, but there will be significant opportunities for Asean to take advantage of the expected rapid recalibration of supply chains globally, and position itself as a destination of choice in global markets for the production of goods and provision of services to support manufacturing,” said the parties in a joint statement today.

“Investment funds will be scarce going forward, and so Asean will need to demonstrate that it is truly open for business, has competitive advantages, and has the right policies in place to help businesses grow, export and develop skills,” they added.

The councils said the special commission should consider “sweeping advances” by removing non-tariff barriers to trade and investment restrictions, and cutting red tape.

“These are extraordinary and unprecedented times which we believe call for urgent, extraordinary and unprecedented action from Asean. The time for Asean to prove its collective strength to mitigate the worst impacts of the ongoing pandemic and ensure the long-term prosperity and wellness of its people through fast action is now,” said Asean BAC chairman Dr Doan Duy Khuong.

Doan said the pandemic presents an opportunity for the regional association to prove that its 10 member states can “work cohesively and responsively together” to curb the spread of Covid-19 and achieve the best possible recovery.

“But to do that, the normal Asean way of working will not suffice, which is why we are proposing this bold and innovative special commission today.

“No one country can overcome this pandemic alone. Bold and decisive steps are needed if Asean is to make the best possible economic recovery and remain a beacon for global trade,” said Doan.