U.S. Firms Continue Collaboration with ASEAN Finance Ministers

(Kuala Lumpur)– Today a delegation of 10 member companies of the US-ASEAN Business Council’s Financial Services Committee (FSC) began its annual mission to the AFMM. The delegation plans to discuss regional capital markets development, the digitization of financial services and data management, and financial inclusion with the ministers of finance at a March 21 working luncheon.  Delegates believe successful collaboration on these issues can most quickly enhance financial services in ASEAN to facilitate regional growth, integration and development. The delegation is led by committee co-chairs, Juan Luis Ortega, Regional President of ACE in Asia Pacific, and Michael Zink, Head of ASEAN at Citi, as well as US-ASEAN Business Council President & CEO Alexander C. Feldman.

The delegation’s mission to Malaysia, the 2015 ASEAN Chair, comes as Southeast Asian ministers of finance and central bank governors convene in the run up to the December 31 implementation of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC).  This is the 15th consecutive year the Council’s FSC has attended the AFMM at the invitation of the host ministry of finance.  For the first time, ASEAN central bank governors have also been invited to attend the Council’s working luncheon, which is the centerpiece of the AFMM mission.

“2015 is a critical year for ASEAN with the advent of the AEC on December 31,” said Council President & CEO, Alexander C. Feldman.  “Over the last decade and a half the Council’s financial services companies have played an important role in the discussion regarding AEC development and how it will be financed.  The regional financial integration that ASEAN offers will help to leverage the collective clout of the ten member nations, ensure that ASEAN’s connectivity goals are realized, and help play a crucial role in the ultimate success of the region. “

“Capital markets have over the past decade and a half become critical to economic growth and development in ASEAN,” according to Michael Zink of Citi.  “In fact, ASEAN equity market capitalization amongst the big 5 exchanges quintupled from 2000 to 2014.  This expansion of globally-connected investment, combined with regional governments’ plans to facilitate corporate and sovereign debt markets’ growth, point to far greater provision of finance to ASEAN firms and opportunities for investors.  Our delegation is honored to have the opportunity to discuss expanding financial opportunities for ASEAN consumers and firms, as well as shaping policies for private and secure provision of world-class digital financial services.”

The delegation will recommend closer interagency collaboration and consultation across governments, including between finance and information technology & communications ministries, as well as central banks. Delegates seek to expand stakeholder consultation with all of these ministries with respect to digital data.

“We are honored to be invited again this year to meet with the ASEAN finance ministers and central bank governors.  We plan to continue our discussions on our mutual interest in advancing financial inclusion throughout the region,” said Juan Luis Ortega of ACE.  “One topic we aim to highlight with the Ministers this year is micro-insurance.  Our plan is to discuss how the private sector can work together with key policymakers to effectively meet the increasing demands throughout ASEAN for micro-insurance.”

ACE and Citi will also lead the delegation in two days of bilateral meetings prior to the March 21 luncheon.  The delegation is convening these country-specific meetings with individual ministers of finance and central bank governors, as well as senior U.S. Treasury officials and the Chairman of the ASEAN Capital Markets Forum.

Companies participating on the mission include ACE, Citi, Visa, GE, JPMorgan Chase, MasterCard, Moody’s, PayPal, Standard & Poor’s, and State Street.

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For more than 30 years, the US-ASEAN Business Council has been the premier advocacy organization for US corporations operating within the dynamic Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Worldwide, the Council's 150+ membership generates over $6 trillion in revenue and employ more than 13 million people. Members include the largest US companies conducting business in ASEAN, and range from newcomers to the region to companies that have been working in Southeast Asia for over 100 years. The Council has offices in: Washington, DC; New York, NY; Bangkok, Thailand; Hanoi, Vietnam; Jakarta, Indonesia; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Manila, Philippines; and Singapore.