Report of the 41st ASEAN-Japan Business Meeting (AJBM) in Singapore on 12 October 2015

1.0 The 41st ASEAN-Japan Business Meeting (AJBM) was successfully held at the Fullerton Hotel, Singapore on 12 October 2015.

2.0 The theme of the Conference was “Thoughts Connected, Futures Connected” in line with the future of ASEAN and Japan in the next 50 years.

3.0 The Japanese side was led by Mr Toshiyuki Shiga, Co-Chair, Asia/Middle-East-Japan Relations Committee of Keizai Doyukai and concurrently, Vice-Chairman of Nissan Motor Co. Ltd, together with Mr Koichi Kawana, Co-Chair of Asia/Middle East-Japan Relations Committee, Keizai Doyukai concurrently, President and Representative Director of JGC Corporation.

The Chairman and Co-Chair of the 41st AJBM was Mr Cecil Leong, CEO of Mayer Brown Consulting, Singapore.


Mr Cecil Leong, Chairman and Co-Chair of the 41st AJBM and CEO of Mayer Brown Consulting, Singapore delivered the Opening Remarks at the 41st AJBM

4.0 Opening Ceremony

  • Welcome Remarks were delivered by:
  • Dr Robert Yap, Chair, ASEAN Business Advisory Council, Singapore Chapter; Chairman, ASEAN Business Group, Singapore Business Federation (SBF)

Dr Robert Yap, Chair, ASEAN Business Advisory Council, Singapore Chapter and Chairman, ASEAN Business Group, Singapore Business Federation (SBF) delivered the Welcome Remarks at the 41st AJBM

  • Mr Toshiyuki Shiga, Co-Chair, Asia/Middle East-Japan Relations Committee, Keizai Doyukai

Mr Toshiyuki Shiga, Co-Chair, Asia/Middle East-Japan Relations Committee, Keizai Doyukai delivered the Welcome Remarks at the 41st AJBM

  • The message from Prime Minister Abe was delivered by H.E. Haruhisa Takeushi, Ambassador of Japan to Singapore.

H.E. Haruhisa Takeushi, Ambassador of Japan to Singapore delivered a Message from the Prime Minister of Japan, Abe

  • There was no Special Guest of Honour from the Singapore Government.

5.0 Panel Session 1 – Winning in an ever-changing ASEAN: The Future of the Regional Operating Model.

The keynote speaker was Ms Alison Kennedy, MD, ASEAN, Accenture Strategy and the Moderator was Mr Chikatomo Hodo of Accenture, Japan.

• This panel was tasked to address the immediate opportunities facing ASEAN, Japan and the region and sought to examine and discuss the solutions that can help us to respond to challenges in our supply chain.

• ASEAN is changing rapidly.  ASEAN is growing and will become the world’s 6th largest GDP by 2020 through consistent economic growth with a projected population of 680 million by 2020.  The diversity of ASEAN demographics is a favourable asset, with rising disposable incomes fueling rapid urbanization. This will in turn, fuel consumption growth drivers.

• The challenges before ASEAN include different economic models and political systems and different currencies.  With ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in place on 1 Jan 2016, there are many opportunities but also many issues to navigate.

• Japanese businesses continue to expand across ASEAN and we have witnessed their switch from China back to ASEAN, with a focus on promoting regional-wide operations.

• In order to take advantage of the emerging opportunities in ASEAN, companies need to focus on 5 key capabilities and leverage on them. These include:

1) Local market strategy – localize market and consumer offerings through deeper understanding of individual customer needs, preferences and lifestyles.

  • How do we use customer analytics to understand the customer, what they want/how fast they want it and if investments are working to drive customer retention, loyalty and growth?
  • How do companies develop the right combination of digital and traditional investments needed to deliver a multi-channel/ omnichannel customer experience?

2) Agile operations – Flexible operations to sense and quickly respond to the market changes and optimize inventory, asset footprint, etc. regionally.

  • How can our operations respond quickly to demand, both in facilities and across a global network? How can we reduce product and operations complexity?
  • What operating model will help us quickly respond to business and market volatility? How can we leverage ecosystem collaboration? What is the role of M&A in our operating model?

3) Leverage workforce diversity – leverage ASEAN workforce diversity (cost, demographic, skills) to optimize operations.

  • What should ASEAN talent strategy for our core workforces (engineering, manufacturing, planning) be? How do we manage change within the organization? What new roles/skills will be needed? How do we attract “digital natives”?
  • How will digital impact ASEAN talent strategy? How can we virtualize my talent pool? (e.g. crowdsourcing)?

4) Digital innovation – drive new level of customer engagement and competitive advantage through disruptive and innovative ideas.

  • How do we fuel technology-led innovation and frugal innovation? How can digital boost our innovation strategy to create market differentiation?
  • How can organisations respond to the digital disruption that is impacting their growth agenda from digital customers to create a digital strategy?

5) Optimal Cross-border operations – compliant, cost effective cross border product flow through an optimized regional network.

  • How does the trading play a critical role in the ASEAN business?
  • How do you see the future state of trade facilitation operations by leveraging digital?

(left to right) Mr Chikatomo Hodo, Mr Kerry Mok, Mr Kensaku Konishi, Ms Jennifer Han, Ms Chian Voen Wong, Ms Alison Kennedy (Keynote Speaker at Session I) and Mr Eddie Siow


Tan Sri Azman Hashim, President of MAJECA asking a question during the Panel Session I

6.0     Panel Session 2 – Business Integration : Closer ASEAN & Japan Partnerships

  • The keynote speaker was Mr Kazumi Nishikawa, Executive Director of JETRO Singapore and Special Advisor to the Minister, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI).  The moderator was Mr Paul Theiss, Chairman, Mayer Brown.
  • This session aimed to explore opportunities for greater regional business integration and collaboration via platforms such as the AEC, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA).
  • ASEAN Economic integration will continue towards AEC 2025.  The speed and quality of Asian integration will determine the ‘success’ of AEC 2025. Foreign MNCs have been looked upon to raise the level of ambitions of AEC 2025.
  • The old image of industrial structure of ASEAN countries include:
    • National flagship businesses (SOE, conglomerate) e.g. Singapore Airlines, Maybank, Singtel
    • Regional/global business : MNC and affiliated SMEs e.g. Toyota, GE, Dannon.
    •  Infrastructure, real estate, retail, services e.g. Central, Ayala.
  • Industrial structural reform is important and needed as this will encourage new movements via:
  1. Strategic alliances among different nationalities as well as among different corporate culture.
  2. Conglomerate expansion with/including region wide SME partnerships.
  3. To note the increasing expansion of Chinese companies to Asia (especially in the finance, real estate and services sector).
  4. The emergence of young entrepreneurship especially in IT, e-commerce, healthcare, tourism.
  5. Emergence of “ASEAN Company” or “Asian Company” e.g. AirAsia, CIMB, Jebsen & Jessen.
  • Government-led market integration (sub-regional, ASEAN-wide or Asian-wide) can provide the momentum and/or accelerate company-led business integration (be it intra-ASEAN, Asian-wide, MNC/SME) and vice-versa.

(left to right)Mr Paul W. Theiss, Mr Tetsuya Iguchi, Mr Kazumi Nishikawa (Keynote Speaker at Session 2), Mr Sony B. Harsono, Mr Manu Bhaskaran, Dr Bunluasak Pussarungsri and Mr Bruce Nicolas Delteil

7.0 Panel Session 3 – Regional Opportunities in Selected ASEAN Countries

The moderator of this Session was H.E. Teng Theng Dar, Singapore’s Non-resident Ambassador to the Sultanate of Oman.  This Session aimed to look at country specific initiatives and possibilities covering dynamic and evolving economies in the region.

7.1 Ascendas – Singbridge (Singapore) – a leading provider of integrated and sustainable urban business environments.

The world today is faced with:
– slowing global economy (inspite of a vibrant ‘shadow’ economy – what else is driving the economy that has yet to be captured?
– China effect – OBOR (One Belt One Road – the new silk road), rising Chinese entrepreneurship
– Anticipated rising interest rates, oil and commodity price
– Security threats and migrant crisis issues.

7.2 Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation in Indonesia.

  • SMBC aims to become a global financial group to lead Asia’s development.
  • It provides a wide range of financial solutions to existing corporate clients, and expanding target to include new medium sized clients.
  • SMBC gave example of its services in Indonesia.

7.3 PT Catur Yasa (Indonesia)

  • Indonesia faces the challenge of connectivity, due to its large geographical spread of many islands.
  • These challenges present opportunities for infrastructure development in the areas of:

a) Roads and rail construction
b) Energy infrastructure (petrol, coal, and gas, renewable energy)
c) Maritime facility infrastructure – development of 7 key major ports.

7.4 ANCO Group (Cambodia)

  • Special economic zone in Poipet – border of Cambodia and Myanmar. Border town Poipet has an economic zone with Japanese investments, creating many jobs for the locals.
  • Much more foreign investment and infrastructure development is needed.

7.5 Mayer Brown (Myanmar)

  • Mayer Brown is assisting Myanmar to develop a number of power projects, besides infrastructure such as telco tower financing, hotel management agreements and international/Myanmar JVs.
  • Myanmar’s laws are still at infant stages and still developing.

(left to right) Mr Ryuji Nishisaki, H.E. Teng Theng Dar, Mr Kusumo A. Martoredjo, Mr Phu Sae Tong and Mr Nathan Dodd

8.0     Closing

Japan Keizai Doyukai announced that the 42nd AJBM will be held in Japan in 2016.


Group Photo after the end of 41st ASEAN-Japan Business Meeting (AJBM)

9.0   42nd Steering Committee Meeting

The next Steering Committee Meeting for the 42nd AJBM will be held in Cambodia.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s