Second DELGOSEA survey on AEC Preparedness

Second DELGOSEA survey on AEC Preparedness
27/11/2015

Results of a second survey amongst members and friends of DELGOSEA showed that while the region is slowly getting prepared for the imminent arrival of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) much still remains to be done.

This short poll followed an identical survey that was carried out in February this year, drawing respondents from the same target group, i.e. members and friends of DELGOSEA who have signed up to receive the regular newsletter and other network information. The aim was to find out to what an extent DELGOSEA members felt better informed about and prepared for the AEC towards the end of 2015 when the easing of the free movement of goods, services and people across the region is about to become reality.

While the results cannot be considered representative for the whole of ASEAN, they present nonetheless an intriguing snapshot of what representatives of LGAs, local governments and CSOs feel about the progress towards a closer and more interlinked ASEAN that is being made in their communities and regions. The picture that emerges is one of only slow progress and still a lack of clear information on what the AEC means for local governments and organisations.

What has not changed over the nine months that had passed between the two surveys is the awareness of the importance of the AEC for the region; the percentage of respondents who feel that the arrival of the AEC is important or very important for their organisation has remained consistent at 82%. It is encouraging that such a high percentage of respondents have a realistic view on what the AEC will mean for their own organisations and lives, even though – as the answers to the questions that followed show – this awareness did not seem to translate into action as much as it should have.

The picture that emerges of the preparedness for the AEC is slightly alarming – there does not seem to have been much progress since February, with even fewer respondents feeling that their community was well prepared in November than did so in February (5% in November, 10% in February). In both months, around half of the respondents believed that preparations in their communities had begun – one would have hoped to see more people feeling that these preparations were well underway as the year progressed. In fact, the opposite seems to be the case, with only 22% of respondents being positive about the extent to which preparations have been made in November as opposed to nearly 32% in February. Hopefully, this reflects a lack of visibility of the progress that communities/local governments are making rather than an actual lack of progress.

This view is reinforced by the results to the question of how the AEC is discussed within the respondent’s organisation, which has become less positive as the year went on: approximately 50% of respondents reported that discussions of the AEC within their organisations focused on the risks and the challenges of a freer movement of goods, services and people, i.e. the AEC was discussed in negative rather than positive terms. By November only 32% of participants in the survey felt that it was mainly the opportunities that the AEC would bring that were being talked about, down from 43%.

Not surprisingly, seeing that both surveys were completed by participants from the same group of people, i.e. friends of DELGOSEA have subscribed to the DELGOSA newsletter, there were only small changes in the sectors that are seen as giving a region a competitive advantage, with both tourism and agriculture/mariculture, as well as SMEs being perceived as a region’s trump card.

But how well informed are people and organisations about the changes? Regarding the availability of information on the AEC, it seems as if efforts made by ASEAN and national/local governments have not been very successful: by November the share of respondents that felt it hard to find information on the AEC from any source has gone up from 13% to 30% with only 6% being aware of the information that the ASEAN Secretariat provides. There is definitely demand for information with a consistently high 30% of respondents being keen to receive more information from regional organisations such as DELGOSEA.

It is with that in mind that DELGOSEA has organised its next workshop in early December in Hanoi around the topic of preparedness for the AEC, hoping to spread more information and move the debate forward on what the AEC means for municipalities and local governments.

For more information on the AEC on www.delgosea.eu: 

Upcoming DELGOSEA Meeting will Focus on ASEAN Economic Community

ASEAN Economic Community – What will it Mean for SMEs?

Hanoi Workshop: Local Economic Development in a Time of Change for ASEAN