Gateway to Asean and beyond

Invest Selangor CEO Datuk Hasan Azhari (left) with ambassador panellists during SABC 2021.

SELANGOR Asean Business Conference 2022 (SABC 2022) returns for its sixth instalment as a platform for key economic players and stakeholders to discuss issues concerning Selangor and the region such as market access, regional economic integration and entrepreneurship.

Organised by Invest Selangor Bhd, SABC 2022 is one of the components under the Selangor International Business Summit 2022 (SIBS 2022) to be held from Oct 6 to 9 at KL Convention Centre.

SABC 2022 will be a one-day conference (Oct 6) with panel sessions and keynote addresses on topics such as regional comprehensive economic partnership (RCEP), digitalisation, and environmental, social and governance (ESG) in Asean perspective.

With the theme Selangor, Gateway to Asean and Beyond: From the Heart of Malaysia to the Heart of South-East Asia, there will also be a panel discussion on entrepreneurs’ resiliency during the pandemic.

Patrons will also be privy to the ambassadors session whereby they will enjoy one-on-one sessions with thought leaders.

(From left) Bangi MP Ong Kian Ming and Pemandu president and chairman Datuk Seri Idris Jala speaks during a panel session at the SABC 2021.(From left) Bangi MP Ong Kian Ming and Pemandu president and chairman Datuk Seri Idris Jala speaks during a panel session at the SABC 2021.

SABC 2022 full day of insights

Kicking off the day will be the panel discussion titled Gateway to Asean: The World’s Fifth Largest Economy and Beyond.

According to the Asean Development Outlook report, Asean is on track to become the world’s fourth largest economy by 2030.

Despite a decline in foreign direct investment (FDI) during the pandemic in 2020, Asean maintained itself as an attractive investment destination, where 61% of its 600 million are below the age of 35 and are active users of digital technologies.

Surround initiatives helped further this along including the Asean-led RCEP – which started this year and is one of the world’s biggest free trade agreements covering 30% of global GDP and the world’s population as well as Asean being the largest destination of the China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and heavy investing in Industry 4.0 technologies by foreign investors.

On local shores, Selangor has been a top investment destination for IR 4.0 sectors such as industrial robots, Internet of Things, ecommerce and fintech platforms.

Even before the pandemic, the Selangor government’s Smart Selangor policy to be a smart state aggressively digitised the economy, government services and community.

With its advanced digital and physical infrastructure connected to the global value chains, Selangor is an ideal destination for investors and businesses to be the gateway to Asean and the broader Asia Pacific region.

Therefore for this panel discussion, the panellists will explore the following topics:

> While Asean as a unified group looks appealing on paper, the reality on the ground seems to be more complex. How can businesses and entrepreneurs navigate through Asean in terms of doing business?

> What is the trajectory and impact of RCEP on the Asean economy, particularly for businesses?

> The US intends to counter China’s BRI through its ambitious US$40tril infrastructure partnerships through the Build Back Better World (B3W) initiative by 2035. What are the implications of the US-China strategic competition on Asean?

The second panel discussion is titled Gateway to ESG in Asean: A Shared Vision of Sustainable Recovery.

In recent years the greater awareness of climate change, sustainability and supply chain transparency has raised the importance of ESG.

In November 2021, the Taxonomy for Sustainable Finance that provided a common language for all Asean countries was released and acts as a timely development for ESG in businesses as the region was reeling from the effects of climate change.

In Asean, ESG represents a range of opportunities – green financing to enhance the environmental alternative financing, to complement social and better governance collaboration to facilitate sustainable recovery.

Despite the ESG movement still in its infancy stage, many businesses – particularly public-listed companies (PLCs) – are taking it more seriously. Malaysia’s stock exchange Bursa is promoting sustainable finance in Malaysia to accelerate ESG adoption among PLCs.

With many of these PLCs based in Selangor, Selangor’s corporate players are case studies of successful ESG adoption.

The panel will explore the following topics:

> How can we prevent corporations and businesses from using ESG to conduct greenwashing or impact washing?

> How can the private sector partner with the government and civil society to better comply with ESG requirements?

> What are the challenges in ESG compliance in Asean?

Wrapping up the day will be the last panel discussion titled Gateway to a US$1tri Digital Asean Economy by 2030.

Asean is the fastest growing internet market in the world.

According to the latest e-conomy report by Google, Temasek and Bain & Company, the internet economy is projected to reach US$1tril in gross merchandise value (GMV) by 2030.

Moreover the pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digitalisation in the region with over 60 million new users having come online, bringing internet penetration to 75%.

The trend is here to stay with nine in 10 consumers who tried a new digital service in 2020 continuing to use the service last year.

In Malaysia, the pandemic has seen more than three million new users.

Malaysia’s GMV is expected to grow 47% year-on-year to US$21bil, and likely to reach US$35bil in overall value. Interestingly, 43% of digital merchants believed they would not have survived the pandemic without the digital platforms.

Last year, Malaysia emerged with the first unicorn startup and the country is on track to hit the highest track record in various verticals such as ecommerce, fintech, healthtech and edtech. At the heart of Malaysia’s digital economy is Selangor where close to 3,000 tech startups (including the unicorn) are domiciled.

The panel will explore the following issues:

> The government’s Malaysia Digital Economy Blueprint aspires to attract two to five unicorn startups (domestic or foreign) to be domiciled in Malaysia. In terms of the entrepreneurship ecosystem and regulatory environment, what does it take for Malaysia to achieve this goal?

> What are the promising new industries or verticals in Malaysia and Asean?

> How can a business – be it SMEs or MNC – in Selangor be a launchpad to expand in other countries in Asean?

Berjaya Corp and Permodalan Nasional Bhd former chief executive officer Abdul Jalil Abdul Rasheed (centre) was one of the speakers at the SABC 2021.Berjaya Corp and Permodalan Nasional Bhd former chief executive officer Abdul Jalil Abdul Rasheed (centre) was one of the speakers at the SABC 2021.

Gateway to opportunities in Asean

SIBS 2022 targets RM350mil of potential negotiated sales from the 30,000 expected trade visitors.

This year’s summit will see more exhibitors than previous years with a total of 850 booths and may also have state pavilions from Penang, Perak, Negri Sembilan, Malacca, Kelantan, Sabah and Sarawak along with participants from key markets such as the Philippines, India, Indonesia and Vietnam.

With international borders now open, SIBS 2022 expects more international delegation and trade visitors to participate in the event.

SIBS 2022 insightful discussions and panel sessions include:

> Accelerated growth of digital economy and logistics services in Selangor due to the pandemic.

> Attracting more investment into the state leveraging on the already mature ecosystem with specific focus on fast-growing industries.

> Proactively engaging with industry players and industry associations on how the state can assist in growing the industry further within Selangor with multiple initiatives in the pipeline for logistics.

> Working closely with DIO formed by MDEC and MIDA to attract more digital investments into the state with multiple initiatives in the pipeline for digital investment.

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