GOVERNMENTS in the Asean region are being helped to establish a fairer business environment under a United Nations initiative.
The project, Promoting a Fair Business Environment in Asean, was launched yesterday by the UN Development Programme (UNDP).
It aims to promote a fair business environment in the region by developing transparent systems in the public and private sectors, championing sustainable business practices, as well as strengthening rule of law and anti-corruption mechanisms. The project will cover Thailand, Malaysia, Myanmar, Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam.
“The Asean Economic Community is currently the seventh largest economy in the world and its combined GDP is projected to grow 3-8 per cent over the next four years,” said Valerie Cliff, UNDP deputy regional director for Asia and the Pacific, at the project launch. “This represents a huge potential for lifting people out of poverty in the region, and highlights the need to foster inclusive growth to achieve the global goals and ensure that such economic growth leaves no one behind.”
The launch of the regional project aims to pave the way for “a multi-stakeholder effort to promote an enabling business environment for the private sector, reduce corruption risks and shape sustainable business practices” in Asean.
Patrick Keuleers, director of governance and peace-building at UNDP, highlighted the “importance of this initiative for promoting a new model of governance where governments and private sector work hand in hand to advance sustainable development” in the region.
“The UK government’s Prosperity Fund aims to reduce poverty through inclusive economic growth,” he said, referring to Britain’s support for the scheme.
Jonathan Turner, Southeast Asia regional director, economic and trade policy of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, said: “The fund targets reforms primarily in middle income developing countries where 70 per cent of the world’s poor live.
We estimate around 200 million pounds will go to Southeast Asia to form strong collaborations and provide capacity-building to governments, regulators, and businesses in Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Indonesia and Burma, as well as supporting Asean-wide initiatives.
“We are delighted to launch this project in partnership with UNDP, the first under the regional Economic Reform Programme of the Prosperity Fund in Southeast Asia. We want to continue to advance government and business transparency and compliance with international standards, promote business integrity, and strengthen the ability of authorities to tackle corruption.”
The event featured discussions on how Asean countries can jointly pursue an agenda to promote sustainable practices of doing business and to move towards a model of inclusive growth. Participants included senior representatives from government, business, civil society and key development partners from the six target countries.
At the global level, the UK’s Prosperity Fund has a budget of 1.2 billion pounds to contribute to poverty reduction by promoting economic reform and development needed for growth in middle income countries, as well as creating opportunities for international businesses.
The fund’s Southeast Asia Economic Reform Programme is designed to tackle two fundamental constraints to growth in the Southeast Asia region: a poor business environment and underdeveloped financial markets.
Improving the business environment is a key enabler for economic growth and can provide a significant positive impact on poverty alleviation. It will positively impact companies in all sectors, providing a more solid foundation for international companies to invest and operate in the host countries.