Private sector participation in the AEC’s integration process will help ensure that the development of regulatory frameworks is at par with international practices, said EAS Strategic Advice managing director Pushpanathan Sundram.
Speaking at the launch of new food industry association, the ASEAN Food and Beverage Alliance (AFBA), Mr Sundram said that the organisation has the potential to play a key role in harmonisation of food policies and standards in ASEAN that enhance the trade of safe, high quality food.
Mr Sundram is the former deputy secretary general of ASEAN for the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) and the principal advisor to the AFBA.
“The two key visionary documents spurring the building of the ASEAN Economic Community are the AEC Blueprint and the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity, and one key element in both of these documents is the role of the private sector,” he said. “The private sector is not just seen as a contributor or feedback mechanism for the Economic Community, it is a partner and stakeholder of it. That is, a partner in shaping the present and future direction of the Community and providing the collective leadership in the implementation of the Community goals, working together with the other stakeholders such as the ASEAN governments and the ASEAN Secretariat. A good regulatory framework and regulatory practices will certainly have an impact on the trade and investment regime in ASEAN and serve as a catalyst for achieving a rules-based AEC that will enhance trade and investment.”
The AFBA launch was attended by senior ASEAN officials and leading experts from the region’s food and beverage industry. It included presentations by Sulaimah Mahmood, SEOM leader of Singapore, ASEAN Director, Ministry of Trade and Industry; Dr Roy Sparringa, Chairman of the ASEAN Prepared Foodstuff Product Working Group; Ms Tan Poh Hong, CEO of the Agri-Food Veterinary Authority of Singapore and Mr Sundram.