PETALING JAYA - Employment and job opportunities can make or break the Asean Economic Community (AEC), according to Asean Business Advisory Council Malaysia (Asean-Bac) chairman Tan Sri Mohd Munir Abdul Majid.
“This is why it is important for governments to support the development of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), which is the biggest source of employment in Asean.
“If employment is seriously threatened, barriers will rise, which will cause the AEC to be rolled back, if not fail,” he said in statement yesterday.
The Asean-Bac had met up with Malaysian SMEs and SME associations to learn the challenges being faced by the sector since the AEC was pronounced last year.
It is part of a series of dialogues to be held nationwide with multiple SMEs and other organisations.
There is also Malaysia’s ratification of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) looming which would increase the pressure of liberalized markets on SMEs, Asean-Bac added.
“As the entity mandated by Asean leaders to provide private sector feedback and guidance to boost Asean’s efforts towards economic integration, this meeting and others to come will be submitted as recommendations through Asean-Bac for the consideration of Asean leaders during the next Asean Leaders summit in Vientiane in September,” Munir added.
Munir pointed out that the 2025 Blueprint placed a responsibility on Asean-Bac to coordinate private sector viewpoints and to ensure more effective collaboration between the private and official sector in Asean.
Asean-Bac had met early in February in Vientiane to map out its work plan for the year and its representatives had a session with Asean economic ministers in Chiangmai at the beginning of this month.
“Asean-Bac Malaysia is committed to ensuring it provides the necessary support to Malaysian SMEs and indeed, SMEs across the Asean region,” he said.
He said the recently launched Growth Accelerator Exchange, a financing programme for SMEs in November 2015, was an effort by Asean-Bac to mitigate the daily challenge of reducing the cost of doing business for micro, small and medium enterprises.