Copy Sony and Samsung, ASEAN companies urged

ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) companies should examine the success of Asian companies like Sony Corp. and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. in creating globally competitive brands, Malaysia’s International Trade and Industry Minister Rafidah Aziz said Friday.

Speaking at the ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM) meeting, Rafidah urged the private sector in ASEAN countries to look at joint venture opportunities in the region and beyond and eventually form ASEAN-based conglomerates, according to national news agency Berita Nasional Malaysia (Bernama).

At the moment, only one ASEAN-based company in the ITC (information technology and communications) field could consider itself a multinational company (MNC) — Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. (SingTel), Rafidah said.

Trade and investment liberalization initiatives implemented by ASEAN had created the enabling environment for development and growth, but the business sector is not capitalizing on the opportunities created in the region, Bernama reported Rafidah as saying.

In developing successful ASEAN MNCs, there was a need to also examine the success of non-ASEAN based MNCs such as Sony, Hyundai and Samsung, Rafidah said.

The 10 countries in ASEAN are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. The countries have a total population of over 500 million people, but trade integration is difficult because of the wide disparity in wealth and development levels between group members.

At the AEM meeting, ministers agreed on a policy called 10-X (10 minus X) which stated that less-developed members could opt out of certain development programs which they felt unable to take on.

Previously, all members were expected to participate in programs such as the e-ASEAN Framework and the Asian IT Belt Initiative, which aim to create a regional electronic infrastructure and an environment for carrying out electronic commerce seamlessly across the region.