Tessie Sy-Coson: ASEAN awareness in the Philippines

Tessy Sy on ASEAN in the Philippines

Awareness about ASEAN and the upcoming ASEAN Economic Community is growing in the Philippines and Southeast Asia. In a recent video by Rappler, Tessie Sy-Coson, Vice-Chairperson at SM Investment Corporation, explains her perspective for ASEAN and the Philippines together with its impact on some business sectors.

As Vice-Chairperson of SM Investment Corporation, Teresita T. Sy-Coson is at the head of a leading conglomerate involved in several industries throughout the Philippines, and a member of the ASEAN Business Advisory Council.

Like AirAsia’s CEO Tony Fernandes, Tessie Sy-Coson is very familiar with international forums and media where she shares her views on business in ASEAN. She is also particularly knowledgeable about business in the Philippines, especially in the retail and real estate sectors.

In this video, she explains how the awareness about the ASEAN Economic Community is growing in the Philippines. Though she acknowledges that the integration process will only just begin in 2015, and take several years to fully complete, it will also take the Philippines, and ASEAN as a whole, into a new dynamic and positive economic cycle.

Key perspectives of Tessie Sy-Coson on ASEAN and the Philippines

The awareness of the ASEAN Economic Community integration is rising in the Philippines, with several conferences on ASEAN and the AEC taking place. ASEAN awareness spreads as business leaders get more and more interested about the opportunities brought by the AEC and its 600 million consumers market.

Philippine economic readiness for the AEC

  • The IT – Technology sector is the most ready to embrace the new ASEAN Economic Community. Several Philippine companies have already been working abroad, and the IT sector is generally faster to adapt.
  • In the Philippines, the technological side of the banking sector is also likely to be able to benefit from the AEC.
  • With regards to Tessie Sy-Coson’s company, SM Investment Corporation is evaluating the different ASEAN markets for the development of malls and other real estate properties. It is actively looking around, but still only in this preliminary phase.
  • After having long been disregarded by foreign investors, the Philippines is now a “sweet spot”: a good business environment with a great potential.
  • Philippine businesses need to realize that they are part of a bigger world and ASEAN is the immediate market to look into.

Challenges to the Philippines’ embrace of the AEC

  • Philippine companies are already very busy developing in their home country.
  • The geographic situation of the Philippines, being an archipelago somehow on the periphery of Southeast Asia make it less involved in the region than other more central countries.
  • This situation may be internalized by Filipinos in an insular sentiment, but the upcoming realization of the AEC will forces the Philippine leaders to look abroad.
  • Some businesses may face competition with the AEC, but it could instead turn out to be opportunities for collaboration.
  • Many sectors are under-valued in the Philippines as they are under-developed. One particular sector that needs strong development is that of infrastructures, which can be a good investment in the long-term.

Policies that could benefit to the Philippines through the AEC

  • Increase the manufacturing industry: it can generate lots of value-added exports and domestic jobs.
  • Enable the freer movement of people as the Philippines has a large population that could benefit from working in the other ASEAN countries.
  • Education could also benefit.

The other ASEAN countries

  • Most duties have been removed for the exchange of goods and services with ASEAN free-trade agreements.
  • Many other ASEAN countries are a little more advanced than the Philippines, and can provide good advice.
  • Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos have a very aggressive approach to develop as fast as they can. They are ready to compete and could stimulate the Philippines.
  • Other ASEAN countries are more aware than the Philippines about ASEAN and the AEC as they are more centrally located in the continent.
  • Their situation inside the continent make them more connected in terms of logistics: they have to be connected.

Video from October 2014 by Rappler

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