ASEAN embassies in
Berne promote awareness of the ASEAN region in Switzerland
The ASEAN embassies in Berne, in cooperation with
Swiss Foreign Policy Think Tank Foraus,
successfully held a forum entitled, “ASEAN
Economic Community (AEC) in 2015: What it means for Switzerland- Prospects and
Challenges for Better Cooperation” at the University of Berne on 14 May
The event, which was attended by more than one
hundred twenty people, was organized primarily to introduce the ASEAN region to
the Swiss public and create awareness of the region’s potential, primarily as
an investment and tourism destination among Swiss nationals. Specifically, the
forum aimed to provide insight into the current developments in ASEAN, as the
region gears toward the creation of the ASEAN Economic Community in 2015.
Key discussants in the forum included Prof.
Jean-Pierre Lehmann, professor of International Political Economy at the
International Institute for Management Development (IMD) in Lausanne and a
specialist in Southeast Asia; Dr. Urs Lustenberger, President of the Swiss
Asian Chamber of Commerce (SACC); and Mr. Leo Trembley, Regional Coordinator,
Asia Pacific Division of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs.
Professor Lehmann provided a concise background on
the historical, economic and geo-demographic background of the region as well
as the challenges this presents to the region as it prepares toward 2015. Dr.
Lustenberger made a presentation on the business opportunities for Swiss
companies in ASEAN with the emergence of the ASEAN Economic Community. He
concluded that while the region’s diversity presents challenges for the
individual member countries, such diversity offers vast opportunities for Swiss
businesses to explore. Mr. Trembley discussed the parallelism and
complementarity between Switzerland and ASEAN, as well as a number of
cooperative projects the two sides have in the pipeline.
The presentations were followed by question and
answer portion, which provided an opportunity for the five ASEAN Ambassadors to
share their thoughts and views on the subjects raised. The ASEAN ambassadors
who participated in the forum were: Ambassador Djoko Susilo of Indonesia;
Ambassador Dato’ Ho May Yong of Malaysia; Ambassador Leslie J. Baja of the Philippines; Ambassador
Chalermpol Thanchitt of Thailand; and Ambassador Nguyen The Piet of Vietnam.
Some of the questions asked include the rationale
for member countries to join ASEAN; the current achievements of the region with
regard to its preparation for 2015; their position on the TPP vis-à-vis the
AEC; and what the AEC really means for individual countries in ASEAN. More questions were fielded from the floor
but due to lack of time, the attendees were given the opportunity to discuss
their questions with the ambassadors during the apèro that followed suit. END