More non-Asean firms prepared for AEC

Nazir (right) and Wood at the launch of the report.

KUALA LUMPUR: Non-Asean companies are much more likely to have an Asean-oriented strategy compared with local companies, according to a survey of 170 business leaders running companies in Asean countries.

The poll was conducted for a special report, Re-drawing the Asean Map: How companies are crafting new strategies in South-East Asia, which was launched yesterday by CIMB GROUP HOLDINGS BHD in collaboration with the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

Justin Wood, chief economist and director for South-East Asia at the Economist Corporate Network (part of EIU), said that of the companies surveyed, 76% currently had a strategy in the region that was specifically oriented around the Asean bloc.

“Most companies in our survey are clearly taking steps to organise themselves around the unfolding economic liberalisation and integration in South-East Asia. Interestingly, though, non-Asean companies are much more likely to have an Asean-oriented strategy (81%) than local companies (only 55%),” Wood said.

“The big global multinationals are further along in recognising the significance of the Asean story and are positioning themselves to benefit from ideas like achieving scale in the region, consolidating operations and manufacturing, and exploring how product and service strategies, as well as sales and marketing strategies, can be harmonised and regionalised.”

In a statement, CIMB said the report, an independent management brief co-sponsored by CIMB and Baker McKenzie, was a timely initiative to prepare companies for the pending unveiling of the Asean Economic Community or AEC on Dec 31.

In addition, the launch saw the introduction of the “Asean Insight” Internet content hub - a joint-production of CIMB and The Economist - containing data, commentary and insights around the subject of Asean for interested audiences. The hub, located at, will be updated weekly throughout the year.

CIMB Group chairman Datuk Seri Nazir Razak said the independent findings of the report further reinforced the importance of Asean as an economic region.

“It validates our decision as a bank to fully-embed ourselves in and across Asean.

“Foreign multinationals are very much aware of the potential that the region represents and local companies really need to step up their game. Local companies in Asean countries have an incumbent advantage but need to clearly define their strategy.”

He said CIMB had prepared for Asean. “We have more research analysts on-the-ground in every country, a diverse staff force of over 41,000 individuals in every market across the region and the most extensive network of branches and ATMs.”

“I would say that in terms of advisory, investment banking, trade finance, treasury and market capabilities, we are best placed to advise any company located in an Asean country on how best to strategically leverage the potential of the region.”

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