Thu, 30 Sep 2010

Jakart (ANTARA News) - Several problems are hindering efforts to increase investment among members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), Deputy Trade Minister Mahendra Siregar said.

"The first problem is how to implement agreements made at Asean level at the national level," he said at an Indonesia-Thailand Business Forum and Business Networking 2010 that brought together s Indonesian and Thai businesspeople from various sectors here on Wednesday.

To increase investment among Asean member countries, he said, on various cooperation agreements made at regional level had to be ratified so that domestic businesspeople could implement them.

"This must immediately be done especially because the market focus has now shifted from developed countries like the US and Japan that have been hit by recent global financial crisis to developing countries like China, Taiwan and certainly Asean member countries," he said.

The change provides a challenge in itself for Indonesia and other ASEAN members in terms of how they could take benefit out of it not only for the short term but also medium- and long-term and of how to be able to consistently implement the regulations.

"We still have a lot of work to do to facilitate the change in the market segment so that common Asean members could enjoy the facilities that investors from other countries could not," he said.

As an example he referred to the Asean Framework Agreement on Services (AFAS) that have been agreed since 1995 that provides preference for investors in the service sector from Asean that have not been maximally used.

The specific problem Indonesia is facing is the mindset of its businesspeople who consider investment as a loss as it equals dumping capital abroad. "This mentality must be changed," he said.

A Thai ministerial-level trade representative, Suthad Setboonsarng, meanwhile quoted various investment access as another problem.

He said "Thailand also faces a similar problem like Indonesia namely a lot of investment access available that often puzzles would-be investors."

In the effort to increase access for goods between Thailand and Indonesia Setboonsarng said Thailand is trying to create an access through South Thailand to Malaysia and Medan, Indonesia.

Thailand as the biggest exporter of automotive products and spare parts in the Asean region is eyeing Indonesia as a target market.

"With its 6.5 million motorbike users Indonesia is a potential market," Nopporn Koakiettaveechai, a Thai automotive businessman, said.

He, however, also admitted about the need for the settlement of the problems with investment regulations and labor to assure smooth investment flow into Indonesia. (*)