Thursday , March 30 2023

Businesses must accept more competition on domestic markets in return for the benefits of ASEAN integration: PM Lee


SINGAPORE: Benefiting from ASEAN integration and open and connected economies, companies should also be prepared to adapt and accept more competition on domestic markets, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Monday (November 12th).

Speaking at the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit for more than a thousand participants across the region, Lee said businesses are not always supportive when it comes to opening up domestic markets to foreign competition and can lobby governments to impose regulations or to keep the industry closed to protect themselves.

But he stressed that businesses need to fulfill their role, while governments in the ten-member regional bloc continue economic cooperation.

"The more our markets are more integrated and open, and the more business rules and business are more conducive to foreign investment, the higher the pie will grow and the more we benefit," he said.


In his speech, Mr Lee mentioned that ASEAN member states grew and thrived as their individual economies grew and members became more confident in deepening economic integration.

He pointed out that the results are visible today, quoting examples such as the ASEAN Single Window window, which came into force in January for five Member States and aims to help operators reduce costs by speeding up goods unloading and reducing documents, as well as the ASEAN – Commerce, which will be signed on Monday.

While ASEAN has a "great potential", full realization depends on whether members choose to become more integrated into a world where multilateralism "ruins political pressure," he said.

Mr. Lee added that the ASEAN Economic Community Plan (AEC) 2025 will help guide member countries to deepen economic integration, open up new growth frontiers and create new business opportunities.

"We have to play the parties as government and business leaders to continue this vision," he said. "Only ASEAN can continue to be a dynamic growth region and only then can we ensure a prosperous future for all."

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