AmCham Indonesia’s ASEAN Committee held its kickoff session on Feb 11 via Zoom, as committee co-chairs Lydia Ruddy and Shanti Shamdasani shared community updates and encouraged members to provide input on topics to discuss in 2021.
Lydia started the meeting by playing a video of The Impact of COVID-19 on Foreign Firms in ASEAN survey conducted by AmCham in collaboration with the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA) last year. The survey brought together 24 chambers and business organizations, gathering input from 264 firms operating in ASEAN. Findings included that 88 percent of respondents have shifted to working from home and are seeing declining revenue caused by decreased demand due to supply chain disruption as a result of travel restrictions and lockdowns under COVID-19. The full report can be accessed here.
Shanti discussed the future direction of ASEAN and how it plays a major role in the economy and healthcare sector during the pandemic. In terms of GDP, ASEAN is a reforming region with Indonesia ($1.04 trillion), Thailand ($505 billion), and the Philippines ($331 billion) as the major players, based on a 2018 World Bank report.
This year, under Brunei’s chair, ASEAN is expected to focus more on healthcare and economic recovery; moving forward the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP); looking at more bilateral agreements including Indo-Pacific diplomacy, non-tariff barriers (NTB), and non-tariff measures (NTM).
Recovery, digitalization, and sustainability are three priorities set by Brunei. This means, ensuring the region recovers from the pandemic with a focus on clarifying rules on non-tariff measures, and the facilitation of investment by leveraging new technologies. Based on the Asian Development Bank Outlook in 2020 and ASEAN.org, ASEAN market penetration of goods and services has doubled in the last decade.
Before closing the session, members provided input on topics related to their businesses for future committee discussion.