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ASEAN discusses global value chain prospects

Brian Badzmierowski / Khmer Times Mon, May 10, 2021

The growth of global value chains (GVCs) could help spur post-pandemic economic recovery in ASEAN, but it will require proactive economic measures on the part of members.

Deputy Secretary-General of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Satvinder Singh made these remarks at an Accelerated COVID-19 Economic Support (ACES) workshop entitled “Turning Adversity into Opportunity: ASEAN’s Participation in Global Value Chains in a-Post-COVID World” last week.

“Despite external shocks such as COVID-19 and global trade tensions, GVCs are here to stay and will continue to be an important growth strategy for ASEAN,” he said.

“These shocks have transformed the GVCs, making them more regionalised, promoting more diversification and putting resilience and sustainability considerations to the forefront. Fresh GVC growth of activities will help the economies of ASEAN recoup and replace job displacements and bring sustained recovery growth to the region – and ASEAN stands a good chance in reaping the benefit from these emerging trends,” he added.

To capitalise on the opportunity to become increasingly relevant in the GVC picture, Sing said the bloc should implement strong regulations, develop its critical infrastructure, ensure better connectivity and develop human capital.

UK Ambassador to ASEAN Jon Lambe said the UK and ASEAN share three priorities as the globe recovers from the pandemic: recovery, digitalisation and sustainability.

The webinar focused on four value chains: automotive, textiles and apparels, medical technology and consumer electronics.

A report on the subject by the UK Mission to ASEAN offered guidance for each of the sectors in a post-pandemic economy.

In the automotive sector, suppliers and workers need to be supported to combat decreased demand. The report also recommended a switch to focus on electric vehicle development.

In textiles and apparel, safety nets for workers should be implemented and ASEAN should work towards increasing its exports five-fold while tripling employment in regions with large female workforces, the report said.

In medical technology, the report advised the sector to employ strict health and safety protection for workers as manufacturers rush to meet the skyrocketing demand for these products.

For consumer electronics, the report said regional bases need to be built up and connected to increase ASEAN’s standing in the GCV.

The report noted that these sectors account for almost 40 percent of ASEAN exports and employ more than 13 million people in ASEAN.

More than 9 million of these employees are female, more than 6 million are classified as informal workers and more than 22,000 work at micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs).

The textile and apparel industry alone accounted for more than 9.5 million employees in ASEAN in 2019.

Across all the sectors, the report urged ASEAN to protect suppliers and workers from fluctuations in demand caused by COVID-19, strengthen manufacturing capabilities, facilitate sectoral upgrading, improve regional cooperation and focus on sustainable business practices.

The report said: “2020 has presented an unwelcome and challenging year for the nations of the region. But by leveraging the spirit of cooperation on which ASEAN was founded, it is positioned to rebound stronger from this period of adversity. This is an opportunity for the region to act in partnership, unlocking significant value in a future-proof and sustainable global trade.”

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SOURCE – Khmer Times, Cambodia Mon, May 10, 2021

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