Private sector push for economic integration vital, says CIMB group chairman

Jeremy TanFriday, October 16, 2015

The private sector should carve out collective bottom-up approach towards economic integration to fill the void when the government’s efforts fall short, says CIMB group chairman Datuk Seri Nazir Razak.

The CIMB group head said the Asean region is committed to a greater push toward economic integration amid significant political uncertainties and economic headwinds.

“We believe the private sector should be encouraged to play a bigger role in the process, and this should include being entrusted with leadership roles in reviewing and reducing non-trade barriers in various sectors of the economy,” said Nazir, who is also the Asean Business Club (ABC) advisory council member.

Nazir had yesterday led ABC visiting delegation to London to explore bilateral investment opportunities between Asean and the UK. The delegation comprises leading corporations from Asean inclusive of CIMB Group, AirAsia Bhd, AirAsia X Bhd, Ayala Corp, YTL Corp Bhd, Malaysian Resources Corp Bhd, Amcorp Properties Bhd, SapuraKencana Petroleum Bhd and Astro Malaysia Holdings Bhd.

Commercial secretary to the Treasury at the UK Prime Minister’s office, Lord O’Neill of Gatley, who chaired a roundtable discussion with ABC, said securing overseas investment to channel toward the UK’s northern projects is crucial given its commitment in the construction of the country’s Northern Powerhouse.

“We are encouraging leading Asean businesses to seize the exciting investment opportunities here in the UK to support our key infrastructure developments and help grow the economy,” an ABC press release quoted him stating yesterday.

The statement noted the Asia House-hosted UK-Asean Dialogue was held earlier in the morning, with UK Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills Sajid Javid noting there is a vast market for new and exciting business opportunities between the UK and the Asean region.

“Asean, home to 600 million people, is one of the fastest growing markets in the world. Here in the UK, as part of the EU (European Union), we offer access to a market of over 500 million,” he said in his speech.

ABC stated the conference debates comprised topics such as “Asean Politics of Uncertainty: What’s Going to Happen to AEC 2015?” and “Developing Asean: Infrastructure Financing Opportunities”, while notable speakers include Asean Business Advisory Council chairman Tan Sri Dr Mohd Munir Abdul Majid, AirAsia group CEO Tan Sri Dr Tony Fernandes and Prudential Corp Asia non-executive chairman Donald P Kanak.

The conference was attended by senior representatives from some of the largest UK corporations including HSBC Holdings plc, Arup Group Ltd, Diageo plc, BP plc, Liverpool FC, London Stock Exchange, BAE Systems plc, Pinsent Masons LLP, Prudential plc, among others.

Meanwhile, Nazir was conferred the Asia House’s Asian Business Leaders Award at Asia House’s Gala Award Dinner in Whitehall, London, in recognition of his overall contribution towards “economic success, professional excellence, moral leadership and service to society”.

Past award recipients include Temasek Holdings Pte Ltd ED and CEO Ho Ching, founder and chairman Jack Ma, and Tata Group chairman Ratan Tata.

“This award recognises the achievements of my many colleagues at CIMB who have been with me since our days as a small merchant bank with about 70 staff in Kuala Lumpur in the late 1980s, to what we are today — an Asean financial powerhouse with 40,000 employees in 17 countries,” he said.

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