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ASEAN Business Alliance is launched!

Updated: Oct 18, 2021

By Dr Renée Ralph, Co-Founder, The Brilliant Foundation

AUSTRALIA - ASEAN Business Alliance (ABA) was officially launched on Friday, 6th August with a turnout of 200 distinguished guests celebrating the initiative, led by Dr Sandy Chong, Inaugural Chair. The Honourable Deputy Premier Roger Cook welcomed this momentous occasion.

ABA represents the business community of Southeast Asian Nations in Western Australia (WA). The Alliance is a coalition of Western Australian business councils that represents Southeast Asian nations: Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Burma and Brunei. ABA works in collaboration towards elevating WA's engagement and the promotion of trade and investment with businesses in the ASEAN regions.

Photo : ASEAN Business Alliance - Office Bearers

Photo : ASEAN Business Alliance - Board Members

Photo : Auntie Kerry-Ann Winmar, our First Nations Elder with Jamiela Sungkar, Master of Ceremonies

Befittingly, before dinner proceedings began, Auntie Kerry-Ann Winmar, a First Nations Elder gave a Welcome to Country (Whadjuk). Her voice filled with pride acknowledging her ancestors that walked the land, 40,000 years ago. A warm welcome and Kaya, wishing ASEAN Business Alliance (ABA) a prosperous journey.

Sandy highlighted that ABA is a significant step forward in boosting Australia’s trade as these ASEAN nations’ combined total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was US$3.2 trillion (IMF 2019).

Photo : 8 August is observed as ASEAN Day

ASEAN is one of the world’s fastest growing economies – offering a broad range of opportunities for Western Australian businesses looking for a new and growing export market. Many ASEAN countries are industrialising and urbanising, and have growing demand for minerals and energy. With a rapidly growing middle class and young populations that are digitally savvy, there is also demand for higher standards of consumer goods, education and training services, and new technologies.

Sandy acknowledges the opportunity for in-depth collaboration with ASEAN and WA to strengthen the existing business ties during these challenging times.

Photo : WA's Filipino community celebrating ASEAN Business Alliance through traditional dance and costume.

Sandy shares a story of ASEAN brotherhood and sisterhood – done in the ASEAN way. Hidilyn Diaz, a daughter of a tricycle driver in a poor village near Zamboanga, wins the first-ever Olympic Gold for Philippines in the Tokyo Olympics 2020. Since February 2020, Diaz was stuck in Kuala Lumpur due to COVID-19, she improvised her training by using bamboo sticks and large water bottles as impromptu weightlifting equipment. Diaz was trained by a Chinese coach Gao Kaiwen, she spent nearly two years in isolation without any family but her training team. Hildilyn Diaz achieved her Olympic dream at the age of 30 years old. Diaz has represented her country on the world stage in weightlifting - 2016 Rio Olympics, 2018 ASEAN Games, 2019 SEA Games, 2019 World Championships.

This is the true spirit of ASEAN. Whether it is sports or business, we work hard, we persevere and take nothing for granted. This is true to the testament of human resilience and perseverance.

Photo : The Honourable Deputy Premier Roger Cook

Following the evening proceedings, the Honourable Deputy Premier Roger Cook in his opening address congratulates the ABA initiative and looks forward to seizing this opportunity with WA’s ASEAN trading partners.

Photo : Louisa Cotter, Secretary of ASEAN Business Alliance; Ms Cotter, Dr Sandy Chong, Inaugural Chair, ASEAN Business Alliance, Dr Renée Ralph, Co-Founder, The Brilliant Foundation and Dr Vanessa Atienza-Hipolito, Director and Principal, Women's Breast Imaging.

Deputy Premier Roger Cook states that ASEAN is Australia’s second largest trading partner as a bloc and is essential to Australia’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2019-20, Australia's trade with ASEAN countries was $113.7 billion, which is greater than our two-way trade with Japan and the United States. Australia’s two-way investment with ASEAN in 2019 was over $259 billion.

Photo: Burmese community with Mr Michael D'Souza, President of BAWA

Australia’s strong trade links are supported by regional and bilateral free trade agreements that act as pathways for Australian business to tap into ASEAN and the ASEAN Economic Community.

Western Australia’s trade relationship with ASEAN is valued at $25.3 billion. It is WA’s third largest trading partner in 2019.

Western Australia has the following agreements to facilitate trade and commercial interests:

ASEAN-Australia New Zealand Free Trade Area (AANZFTA)

Malaysia-Australia Free Trade Agreement (MAFTA)

Singapore-Australia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA)

Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP)

Thailand-Australia Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA)

Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (IA-CEPA).

In response to COVID-19, Australia is supporting ASEAN to play a central role in health security and economic recovery in Southeast Asia. Australia has a suite of ASEAN-Australia development initiatives to challenge the impacts of the pandemic under our Partnerships for Recovery. It focuses on strengthening health security, maintaining social stability, and stimulating economic recovery.

Photo : Thai dancers in their traditional costumes

In 2020, the Australian Federal Government announced an additional $500 million package of economic, development and security measures to support Southeast Asia’s recovery. Australia’s regional ASEAN and Mekong development programs, complement the work of Australia’s bilateral development programs, in building a stable, open, inclusive and resilient Southeast Asia.

In 2020, Australia also committed $623.2 million to support vaccine access and health security in the Pacific and Southeast Asia. About $400 million of this commitment will support Southeast Asia to access vaccines and monitor quality, including the $100 million Quad Vaccines initiative for Southeast Asia.

Photo : Dr Renée Ralph, Mary Turonek, Dr Sandy Chong, Dr Linda Kennaugh, Dr Vanessa Atienza-Hipolito

These significant investments complement Australia’s extensive engagement with ASEAN to respond to the pandemic. In 2020, this included convening a Special ASEAN-Australia Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on 30 June 2020, enhanced dialogue between ASEAN and Australian health experts; and over $83 million in cooperation initiatives.

In essence, these alliances help foster growth that enhances mutually beneficially community relations that WA thrives on.

A celebratory vibe continued to fill the air where Western Australia came alive for ASEAN Day and ASEAN Business Alliance's official launch at Double Top, Hilton Perth Waterfront – a melting pot of cultures – feasting, cultural dance performances, laughing and chatting. A momentous occasion where multiculturalism, diversity and inclusion is shared, enjoyed and treasured.

Photo : Burmese ladies in their traditional costumes

Photo : Indonesia ladies performing their traditional cultural dance

Your Brilliant Feedback

1. What have your learnt about ASEAN Business Alliance (ABA)? Would you like to be part of this alliance?

2 Since 1974, Western Australia and ASEAN Nations have a strong trading relationship and partnership, can you name the 10 ASEAN Nations?

3. What day and month is observed as ASEAN Day?

About Dr Sandy Chong

Dr Sandy Chong is an expert in international market strategy, cross-cultural communication and global leadership. She has over 15 years experience in leading overseas growth projects in Asia Pacific, Europe and the United States of America.

Her mission is to help clients succeed in new markets, improve capacity for growth, and elevate positioning for their overseas expansion. She is the Winner of the Asia’s Top Sustainability Woman of the Year Award, USA Stevie International Business Awards for Executive of the Year, and Singapore Management Consultant of the Year.

Sandy is a Harvard Alumna and has spoken at Fortune 500, Harvard Business School, United Nations, and Special Olympics events.


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