ASEAN feared to become multinational companies market only

ASEAN market had so far been used optimally by multinational companies (MNCs) from outside the Southeast Asian region.
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - An integrated ASEAN market will only become a market for multinational companies if it is not used optimally by the South East Asian countries` own business communities, an industry ministry official said.

Agus Tjahajana Wirakusumah, the Industry Ministry`s director general of international industrial cooperation, said here on Thursday the ASEAN market had so far been used optimally by multinational companies (MNCs) from outside the Southeast Asian region. The MNCs had built factories and were marketing their products in the ASEAN region.

"If the ASEAN economy is driven only by the multinational companies, I am afraid ASEAN`s own business communities will end up being only onlookers in the ASEAN Economic Community to be formed in 2015," Agus said.

Therefore, he said, ASEAN entrepreneurs must build a business and cooperation network among themselves in order to be able to remain competitive not only in ASEAN but also in the world.

"In my view, our entrepreneurs so far have yet to take full advantage of the ASEAN market in terms of investment and marketing," Agus said.

He pointed out that a number of Indonesia`s entrepreneurs such as Sinar Mas Group preferred investing in China rather than in the ASEAN region.

"In my opinion, ASEAN`s economic integration has not been used optimally up to the present. Therefore ASEAN entrepreneurs should take advantage of it before investing outside ASEAN," he said.

According to data from the ASEAN Secretariat, ASEAN countries, except Laos and Myanmar, were mostly exporting to countries outside the region.

Only Laos and Myanmar were ASEAN-oriented in foreign trade as 80 percent and 50 percent respectively of their exports went to other ASEAN countries.

Indonesia`s foreign trade orientation was just the opposite. In 2009, Indonesia`s total trade with ASEAN reached US$52 billion with a composition of US$24.6 billion in export and US$27.7 billion in import.

The figure was smaller than that obtained in Indonesia`s trade with countries outside ASEAN which was recorded at US$160.9 billion with the composition of US$91.8 billion in exports and US$69 billion in imports.(*)