As appeared in theedgesingapore.com Piyush Gupta, CEO of DBS Bank, the largest Southeast Asian lender, is not satisfied with the pace at which smoother links can be created within the 10-member state regional grouping. “I’m disappointed with the pace of Asean financial markets integration,” said Gupta at the Asean Business Club forum held on May 14. “A lot of stuff is happening, but not moving as fast as it needs to.” He listed services like debt securitisation, harmonisation and mutual recognitions as examples of cross-border financial activities undertaken by large companies that can benefit a tighter integration within Asean. Discussions surrounding the Asean Economic Community, or AEC, have intensified recently. By end of this year, the formal establishment of the “single market and production base” is to be officially declared. However, there are certain key areas, like financial services, where many barriers are still around. Gupta noted that in some aspects, things are even moving backwards.
“Ring-fencing is increasing, around capital, liquidity, around information, around data, around people, and around technology.” Gupta wasn’t the only bank chief expressing the same sentiments. Nazir Razak, chairman of CIMB Group, also expressed concerns over the progress made.
There has been a lot of talk, but more action will be needed.
“Asean meetings and statements are always very good, very nice, but what we really need is a clear action plan,” said Nazir at the same forum. Certain Asean companies, eager for the chance to expand their businesses across the region, had bought “lock stock and barrel” the vision for 2015, introduced back in 2007. “But the reality is very different – it has fallen short. It is half-baked, half-way,” he said. “Let’s do it right, this time round.” To be sure, there had been some steps made. For example, trading links among the exchanges of Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. However, this has not been marketed sufficiently.