The joint working group on palm oil between the European Union and relevant ASEAN member countries met for the first time on Jan. 27 - Photo: Special

JAKARTA (TheInsiderStories) – The EU – ASEAN Business Council, reported 56 percent of European Union businesses have plans to expand operations in the Southeast Asian (ASEAN) region. This figure decreased slightly from 61 percent compared in 2019.

The report said, 74 percent of respondents who are domiciled in Indonesia have expansion plans. And, 53 percent of respondents saw ASEAN as the region with the best economic opportunities, where in 2019 the figure was 63 percent

Its also stated, 47 of respondents considered the possibility of realigning their post-pandemic supply chains with ASEAN, Europe and China as the main destination regions. In addition, 73 percent of respondents hope that business people can develop their level of trade and investment in the region in the next five years, or down from 84 percent in 2019

Of the 6 percent in 2019, this year only 2 percent of respondents felt that ASEAN Economic Integration had progressed quite rapidly. While, as many as 4 percent of respondents thought that ASEAN customs procedures were fast and efficient, down from 8 percent last year

Decreasing from 78 percent, this year, 62 percent of respondents reported that business people face many challenges in the efficient use of supply chains in ASEAN. Then, 98 percent of respondents want the European Union to accelerate the negotiation of a free trade agreement (FTA) with ASEAN and its member countries. This figure has increased from 96 percent last year

Based on the results of a survey conducted, Donald Kanak, Chairman of the EU-ASEAN Business Council said, “The results of this year’ survey confirm that ASEAN is still seen as the best economic opportunity area, but as predicted during the COVID-19 crisis, the prospects for increased trade and investment show signs of weakening.”

Included in this year’ business sentiment survey are questions about areas that are considered to have the potential to attract more investment in the supply chain in the post-COVID-19 era. ASEAN is in the top position, but apart from that Europe and China are considered to have similar potential.

“Nearly half of respondents expect a reorganization of the supply chain after the Covid-19 pandemic. This certainly makes matters that need to be resolved in ASEAN economic integration and progress in trade facilities to be very important for ASEAN economic recovery from economic downturns,” added Kanak.

He continued, the survey results carry a very clear message, that the implementation of ASEAN Economic Integration is currently in a period of pause. He said, its important that ASEAN, including its member countries, need to accelerate their steps so that they can achieve the commitment points contained in the AEC Blueprint 2025.

Currently, European business people are adjusting business strategies to suit local environmental conditions rather than waiting for them to exist. substantial progress on regional economic integration. Furthermore, European business players are also worried about the lack of further development of FTAs in the ASEAN region, especially the long talks on FTAs ​​between the two, which are considered to provide more benefits than bilateral FTAs.

“In fact, European businessmen want the European Commission to accelerate the pace of negotiations and EU engagement with Southeast Asia,” concluded Chris Humphrey, Executive Director of the EU-ASEAN Business Council.

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