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ASEAN Investment Forum: Personal Observations and Enthusiasm for Regional Collaboration

I was thrilled to be an integral part of the ASEAN Investment Forum this weekend, representing #WAIPA as the Senior Advisor Asia Pacific. What an extraordinary event it has been, showcasing seamless collaboration with esteemed partners; #UNESCAP, #BKPM, #ASEANSecretariat, and #Bloomberg in organizing this first ASEAN Investment Forum.

Moderating the session on ASEAN Investment Opportunities in Health Systems during the forum was a privilege. Meanwhile, our very own Dushyant Thakor, Deputy Executive Director of WAIPA, shared his profound insights during a panel discussion on #ASEAN's Investment Opportunities in Electric Vehicles. I must express my sincere gratitude to our exceptional panelists for their invaluable contributions, which not only enriched the session but also made it an enjoyable experience for all.

Now, let's dive into my key takeaways from this landmark ASEAN forum, where Ministries, Investment Promotion Agencies (IPAs), and the dynamic private sector converged:

  1. Investor Preference: Learning #1 - Investors exhibit a clear preference for countries with "long-term stable policies."

  2. Incentives Matter: Learning #2 - The significance of incentives, particularly in the context of opening up key sectors aligned with UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), cannot be overstated.

  3. Bankable Projects: Learning #3 - The formulation of bankable or investible projects, complete with identified land and streamlined regulatory clearances, is paramount.

  4. Ecosystem Cultivation: Learning #4 - Cultivating sector-specific ecosystems is essential to fuel growth in key sectors.

But these takeaways offer more than just insights; they illuminate the pathway to a brighter future for ASEAN through regional collaboration to attract foreign direct investment (FDI).

Here's how:

Regional Collaboration for FDI Attraction: One of the standout opportunities arising from this forum is the potential for ASEAN countries to unite and present themselves as a collective powerhouse for FDI. Learning #1 about the preference for stable policies underscores the importance of harmonizing regulations and policies across the region. ASEAN nations can collaborate to create a stable, investor-friendly environment that spans borders.

Leveraging Incentives: Learning #2 highlights the role of incentives in attracting investment, especially in sectors aligned with UN SDGs. By aligning their incentives and investment priorities, ASEAN countries can collectively appeal to investors seeking opportunities that contribute to sustainable development. Collaborative incentives can make the region even more enticing.

Pooling Resources for Bankable Projects: Learning #3 emphasizes the need for bankable projects with streamlined processes. ASEAN nations can work together to identify and develop cross-border projects that are not only attractive to investors but also align with regional development goals. Pooling resources can enhance the feasibility and attractiveness of these projects.

Building Sector-Specific Ecosystems Together: Learning #4 underscores the importance of nurturing ecosystems for sector growth. ASEAN countries can collaborate to create regional hubs for key industries, such as health systems, renewables, and electric vehicles. By doing so, they can collectively support the growth of these sectors and position themselves as regional leaders in emerging industries.

As a regional observer in ASEAN based in the region I have adopted as my home for 18 years, I am immensely proud to see significant steps forward in ensuring the regional development of ASEAN through collaboration to drive sustainable growth. Witnessing the dynamic transformation of this region and being a part of its journey toward prosperity has been a truly rewarding experience. The commitment and enthusiasm displayed by ASEAN nations and their leaders to work together, not just as individual entities but as a collective force, have been nothing short of inspirational. This shared vision for a stronger, more prosperous ASEAN, united in attracting foreign direct investment, is a testament to the region's resilience and potential. It reinforces my belief that the ASEAN Investment Forum is not just an event but a milestone in the ongoing narrative of ASEAN's rise on the global stage.

In conclusion, the ASEAN Investment Forum has not only provided invaluable insights but also opened doors to regional collaboration that can revolutionize the way ASEAN attracts foreign direct investment. It's a momentous opportunity to present a united front to the world, showcasing the immense potential and attractiveness of the ASEAN region for investors.

Andrew Keable, Senior Advisor, Asia Pacific, WAIPA 🌏💼

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