asean chairmanship

As ASEAN Chair this year, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR) is receiving renewed interest and attention. Setting the theme “Turning Vision into Reality for a Dynamic ASEAN Community,” the Lao leadership is now under pressure to lead and implement the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 as ASEAN begins a new chapter after the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) at the end of 2015. Despite many challenges, leaders have welcomed and supported the Lao chairmanship. Indonesian President Jokowi Widodo has expressed confidence that “ASEAN will develop better cooperation and succeed in realizing ASEAN’s mission under Laos chairmanship,” while the U.S. Ambassador to ASEAN Nina Hachigian has reinforced U.S. support for the Lao chairmanship.

 

Laos will play an integral role in representing ASEAN interests and enhancing further cooperation between ASEAN and its partners as ASEAN continues to be an attractive region for business expansion. In AmCham’s 2016 ASEAN Business Outlook Survey, 77% of respondents from Laos mentioned that ASEAN integration will be important for them to do business in the region.  This is anticipated to help boost Laos’ strong economic performance over the past decade and Laos expects a GDP growth rate in excess of 7% annually. Additionally, close to half of survey respondents (46%) have indicated plans to expand within Laos, while the same proportion of respondents also expect their workforce to expand in 2015.

 

As the chair this year, Laos has laid out eight priorities for its term, including trade facilitation, narrowing the development gap, enhancing connectivity, fostering greater regional cooperation, and transitioning to a formal economy. These priorities will strengthen the current government’s initiatives while creating a more positive business environment in Laos. This will be especially important as the expansion of the rule of law still remains a key issue for many businesses; more than 80% of respondents indicate that the lack of efficient and fair enforcement of the law is a major hindrance for business operations in Laos. Yet, businesses are optimistic that this will improve in the future. 69% of respondents have expressed confidence that the US$3.9 million grant received in 2014 from foreign donors including United States, United Nations, France, and the European Union to expand the rule of law will likely improve the business environment. This in turn will help to build foreign investors’ confidence in Laos.

 

This year will be an opportunity for Laos to lead and maintain the momentum in moving ASEAN forward this year despite being the smallest economy in ASEAN. Companies continue to be attracted by the strong growth prospects in this region with most ASEAN respondents (86%) expecting their company’s level of trade and investment to increase over the next five years. Backed by the ASEAN Chairmanship, this could position Laos as an increasingly attractive destination for foreign investors.

 

The next edition of the report, the 2017 ASEAN Business Outlook Survey, will be released in Laos during the United States-ASEAN dialogue at the ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting in early August.

company.com

Inaugurated this year, in recognition of 50 years of U.S.-Singapore diplomatic relations, 30 AmCham Singapore members were recognized for their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) efforts with the launch of the inaugural AmCham CARES award. The award which was presented at the 43 Annual General Meeting (AGM) aims to raise awareness about CSR among members as well as demonstrate our continued leadership among chambers in Singapore.

 

Award recipients include companies from various sectors and industries whose applications were reviewed based on their understanding and demonstration of the linkages between business operations and the society. Companies were required to fill in an online application form where they were evaluated based on their program’s connectedness to Singapore, attention to both business objectives and societal needs as well as sustainability and integration of the program.

 

AmCham CARES is not a competition but instead serves as a great way to benchmark, share best practices, sustainability reporting and look at ways to improve companies’ current CSR programs.

 

The award was presented by U.S. Ambassador to Singapore, Kirk Wagar, along with immediate past Chairman of AmCham Singapore, James Andrade, and AmCham Singapore Govenor, Steve Okun.

 

Full list of award recipients.

Since 2003, the U.S. Ambassador to Singapore has invited all AmCham members to join the U.S. Embassy in celebrating our annual Corporate Community Day (CCD). Ambassador Kirk Wagar is proud to continue this tradition of serving the communities in which we live and work. CCD 2016 will take place on October 22 – we hope that you will participate and join us for this exceptional day.

 

CCD both symbolizes the commitment companies bring to their communities and demonstrates how small acts, when added together, can make a difference. Year after year, AmCham members from companies large and small dedicate their time to volunteer for a variety of causes around Singapore on the same day to create a big-hearted one-day impact. The inaugural CCD involved just 6 member companies. Last year, we welcomed over 2,000 CCD volunteers from 77 companies who served more than 8,000 beneficiaries through 62 separate community service engagements. Click here for more information.

 

Ambassador Wagar will join in as many activities as possible on this special day. Click here to watch his comments on CCD.

 

The first CCD organizational meeting will be on Tuesday, June 21, at the AmCham office (#23-03 Shaw Centre, 1 Scotts Road, S228208) from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.  Please click here to register.

 

For more information, please contact Hazlyn Aidzil at haidzil@amcham.org.sg .

 

We look forward to seeing you on June 21 and October 22!

apcac

Every year, the Asia-Pacific Counsel of American Chambers of Commerce (APCAC) visits Washington, DC to meet with senior Administration officials, major think tanks, and members of Congress and senior Hill staff.  This year’s Doorknock is scheduled for June 21-24.

 

The focus of the Doorknock’s policy representations will be the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), tax and FATCA reform, and renewal of the APEC Business Travel Card.

 

With the TPP vote pending, this year’s Doorknock is exceptionally important.  This is our chance to bring our story from the field to the decision-makers who will determine the timing and outcome of the vote on the TPP.  We need a strong delegation who can convincingly explain how the TPP will boost American growth and American jobs.

 

The link to register is here http://apcac.org/doorknock.   Please sign up now!

 

AmCham joins its members in promoting Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and we support a range of CSR activities. The flagship is our annual Corporate Community Day that we organize in cooperation with the U.S. Embassy.  On a single day each fall, AmCham members volunteer at organizations of their choosing — the result is Singapore’s largest one-day volunteerism event.  We look forward to yet another record-breaking level of participation at the 2016 CCD on October 22. Please be on the look-out for the announcement of the first planning meeting.

 

More than a decade ago, we established the AmCham Scholarship Fund at Singapore Management University.  This provides financial support to SMU students, including for an annual exchange with the University of Southern California.  The SMU-USC students research an important foreign policy topic and brief AmCham members on their conclusions.

 

This year, in honor of fifty years of diplomatic relations between Singapore and the United States, we launched AmCham CARES to recognize member companies for their corporate and societal excellence.  The first awards will be given at our 2016 Annual General Meeting on April 22.

 

Since 2013, we have advanced our CSR goals through an annual charity partnership, which aims to promote the chosen organization’s initiatives among AmCham’s members and encourage them to participate in the partner’s projects benefiting the community.   For three years (2013-2015), the Yellow Ribbon Fund was our charity of the year.

 

We are pleased to announce that we have selected the South East Community Development Council (SE CDC) as our charity partner for 2016. Under the dedicated stewardship of Dr. Mohamad Maliki bin Osman,  Mayor of the South East District of Singapore and Senior Minister of State at the Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the SE CDC is a tireless advocate for ‘Community Bonding’ and assisting members of the community who are in need. Together with its partners, the SE CDC supports and facilitates a variety of social projects.  We look forward to a fruitful partnership with the Southeast CDC!

In his 2016 Budget speech, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat highlighted the innovative efforts of AmCham members Lincoln Electric and Procter & Gamble.

 

In discussing how the government must not only assist individual companies to transform and modernize but also support entire industries to do so, Minister Heng praised Lincoln Electric, saying:

 

“For example, robots can handle metal fabrication processes more efficiently, from steel cutting to welding to machine tending. But these may be too expensive or complicated for many SMEs. Recently, a number of solution providers including Lincoln Electric came forward to design and deliver more affordable, modular systems for SMEs. Over 1,000 SMEs could benefit, if this is scaled up across the manufacturing sector.

 

Industry-level transformation works best if firms partner one another, or if industry associations lead the effort, because they know their needs best. Government agencies can support by initialising lead demand or through regulatory changes. We need to form close partnerships among firms, industry associations and Government to drive industry-level transformation.”

 

Minister Heng also reiterated Singapore’s commitment to research and development, offering Procter & Gamble as an example of a great industry partner:

 

“First, we will continue to deepen industry capabilities in innovation and R&D.

 

Of the commitment announced for the Research, Innovation and Enterprise (RIE) 2020 Plan, up to $4 billion will be directed to industry-research collaboration. This represents a concerted shift towards innovation and enterprise, to capture the economic and social value of R&D.

 

Procter and Gamble (P&G) has worked with A*STAR and EDB to set up the Singapore Innovation Centre (SgIC). It is one of P&G’s major innovation centres, focusing on research and product development for its global business units in Home Care, Healthcare, Grooming and Skin Care. The SgIC will be a key open innovation hub to accelerate and facilitate collaborations between P&G and partners in Asia, including Singapore enterprises.”

We recently launched our membership survey on Monday, February 29.

 

As part of our ongoing effort to identify and cater to members’ needs, we hope that members can complete the short survey so that we can better provide services and programs that are meaningful for you and your business.

 

Complete the survey and stand a chance to win a prize at our lucky draw. Prizes include a 2010 bottle of PengWine’s The King, an exclusive Ruinart Blanc de Blancs Georgia Russell Limited Special Edition, or an award winning luxurious Taittinger Gift Box.

 

The survey will close on Tuesday, March 22. We appreciate your feedback and look forward to receiving the completed survey.

 

Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts.

 

The American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore (AmCham) applauds today’s signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement in Auckland, New Zealand. This occasion marks an important milestone for regional economic integration. The TPP’s pace-setting standards will boost trade and investment among the 12 participating countries while its open architecture promises rising benefits as membership grows.

 

AmCham Chairman James Andrade stated, “This is an important step toward the realization of the promise of the TPP. The agreement will deliver far-reaching benefits for American businesses already in the region and signal to other companies that now is the time to explore opportunities around the Pacific.”

 

“Today is a significant achievement, but we have not reached the finish line. To unlock the full potential of the agreement, governments and businesses must continue to work together to ensure prompt approval and implementation of the TPP,” AmCham Executive Director Judith Fergin added.

The registration for AmCham CARES (Corporate and Societal Action: Recognition for Excellence in Singapore) award program is open now!

 

AmCham CARES will recognize AmCham member organizations that demonstrate an understanding of the linkages between business operations and society and that conduct business in a way that creates both long-term economic and social value.

 

AmCham CARES is not a competition. It requires companies to meet certain criteria with their corporate programs. AmCham CARES is a great way to benchmark, share best practices, and look at ways to improve your current CSR program.

 

Member organizations that meet the AmCham CARES recognition criteria will be:

  • Recognized at the AmCham Annual General Meeting in April;
  • Recognized on the AmCham website;
  • Included in the press release announcing the recipients;
  • Featured in the AmCham column in the Singapore American Newspaper; and
  • Highlighted in AmCham’s annual Corporate Community Day materials.

 

All AmCham main members have received a link to apply through survey monkey. If you have not received the link or need further clarification, please contact Hazlyn Aidzil at haidzil@amcham.org.sg.

 

We look forward to receiving your application form for the AmCham CARES program!

Office opening collage

On January 11, 2016, the American Chamber of Commerce in Singapore (AmCham) inaugurated its newly expanded and renovated office in the Shaw Centre. U.S. Ambassador Kirk Wagar, Singapore Ministry of Trade Director General for Trade and TPP Chief Negotiator Ng Bee Kim, AmCham Chairman James Andrade, and AmCham Executive Director Judith Fergin cut the ribbon with Ambassador-at-Large Chan Heng Chee and Ambassador-at-Large Tommy Koh as witnesses.

 

“AmCham’s office expansion symbolizes the American business community’s commitment to Singapore and the region we serve from here. While our community is large and diverse, we all have in common a stake in the prosperity of the Singaporean and U.S. economies and the region. We look forward to using these offices as launch pad for many more decades of cooperation and success,” said AmCham Chairman James R. Andrade.

 

Singapore Ministry of Trade and Industry Director-General for Trade Ng Bee Kim said, “Singapore and the United States enjoy a strong and longstanding economic relationship. The U.S.-Singapore Free Trade Agreement is the U.S. first agreement with an Asian country and a gold standard agreement. More recently, our two countries, along with ten others from the Asia Pacific region, have worked hand-in-hand to bring the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement to completion. This comprehensive, high standard regional trade agreement will create good jobs and new opportunities for trade and investment. The TPP marks an important milestone in the advancement of regional economic integration and paves the way for an eventual Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific.”

 

U.S. Ambassador to Singapore Kirk Wagar stated, “The United States and Singapore are celebrating 50 years of diplomatic relations this year. Our ties are strong and growing, and the TPP will strengthen them further. The TPP is the highest-standard multilateral trade agreement in history. It will establish rules of the road to ensure that tomorrow’s global trading system is consistent with the values and interests that the United States and Singapore share. Congratulations and thank you once again to my Singaporean colleagues for all you do to support our economic relations. Thank you, AmCham, for your strong support for the relationship. Congratulations on the inauguration of this new space – a vote of confidence for the future.”

 

Singapore is the leading destination in Asia for foreign direct investment from the United States and, at over US$179 billion, the United States is the largest foreign direct investor in Singapore.   The U.S.-Singapore Free Trade Agreement that entered into force in 2004 has stimulated significant growth and diversification of trade and investment ties between the two countries. AmCham has grown to become the largest foreign business chamber in Singapore with over 5,000 members representing more than 750 member companies.

 

AmCham has hailed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) as a landmark agreement with the potential to revolutionize trade in the 21st century and congratulates the Singapore and United States government for their successful efforts to bring the TPP negotiations to conclusion. AmCham Singapore anticipates that the TPP will motivate a substantial increase in trade and investment among and between partner countries.

 

The expanded office signals AmCham’s confidence in the future expansion of the American business community here. This enhanced platform will enable AmCham to better support its growing membership with advocacy, insights, and connections.

 

AmCham thanks its office expansion partners – Armstrong, Haworth, Interface, and Kahler Slater – for their generous support.

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AMCHAM UPDATES

This blog features event recaps, updates on the latest happenings at AmCham, and commentaries from the AmCham staff