Fifty-five leaders of major companies have joined forces to promote public-private cooperation on the most pressing issues facing South-East Asia. The ASEAN Regional Business Council (RBC) was launched in Ha Noi at the World Economic Forum on the Mekong Region.
Comprising 25 ASEAN businesses and 30 global companies, the RBC will champion initiatives that call for trust and cooperation between the public and private sectors in the region. Focus will be on building infrastructure, promoting cross-border trade and investment in ASEAN, developing a digital economy, examining the future of jobs and industry in the region and championing the principles of inclusive growth.
Nazir Razak, Chairman, CIMB Group Holdings, Malaysia, is the inaugural chair of the ASEAN RBC. Overcoming some of the biggest challenges in ASEAN depends on business and government working together. We want the RBC to help present the voice of business to government so that we can collectively deliver positive impact in the region and ensure that the hundreds of millions of young people across ASEAN have the brightest possible future,” he said.
“The goal of the RBC is to contribute to unlocking ASEAN’s outstanding potential” said Justin Wood, Head of Asia Pacific, World Economic Forum. “As the international organization for public-private cooperation, the Forum is a platform where stakeholders in society can meet in an environment of trust and impartiality to debate important ideas and catalyze action.”
Both Razak and Wood noted that the RBC will work closely with business groups in the region. The ASEAN Business Club will be involved in some of the RBC’s work, notably to promote principles of economic integration.
The RBC is expected to launch a number of other initiatives in the year ahead. Among them is a strategic infrastructure program that promotes the concept of blended finance. ASEAN has a large infrastructure deficit that cannot be addressed through public investment alone. Private capital is needed, but many projects fail to secure funding because investors see them as too risky. Blended finance harnesses flows of official development assistance to alleviate these risks while also allowing private capital to be raised.
Another key project promotes small- and medium-sized enterprises such that they achieve regional scale and become the next generation of ASEAN corporate champions.