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ERIA and AustCham Co-hosted Webinar on The Impact of Covid-19 on Australian Businesses Across ASEAN

21 September 2020

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Jakarta, 21 September 2020: ERIA and AustCham ASEAN co-hosted the webinar The Impact of Covid-19 on Australian Businesses Across ASEAN to present and discuss the result of the latest AustCham ASEAN business survey. The event was jointly organized by AustCham ASEAN and ERIA, through its Strategy and Partnership programme, funded by Australia. The webinar attracted more than 100 participants.

Mr Koji Hachiyama opened the webinar with welcome remarks and the Australian Ambassador to ASEAN, Will Nankervis, delivered the keynote speech. Other speakers included Ms Chau Ta, President of AustCham ASEAN, Dr John Ackermann, Founding Director of PT Mitra Asia Lestari and Dr Intan Ramli, Policy Fellow at ERIA. Ms Jodi Weedon, Executive Director AustCham ASEAN and Dr Giulia Ajmone Marsan, ERIA Strategy and Partnership Director moderated the event.

In his welcoming remarks, Mr Koji Hachiyama highlighted the importance of building resilient supply chains across ASEAN and East Asia and thanked Ambassador Nankervis, the Australian Mission to ASEAN and AustCham ASEAN for the organization of the joint event. He also mentioned how the AustCham survey complements and brings additional points of view to two surveys ERIA is currently conducting: one with the American Chamber of Commerce in Indonesia to survey foreign firms across ASEAN and the other survey focussed on Japanese firms in ASEAN.

Ambassador Nankervis mentioned the importance of ASEAN to Australia and the important role that Australian businesses have to play during the post-pandemic economic recovery. He also highlighted the importance of further regional economic integration and of the multi-lateral trading system, of which the forthcoming RCEP agreement is an important regional pillar. Ambassador Nankervis thanked AustCham ASEAN and ERIA for hosting the webinar and interacted with the audience during the Q&A session at the end.

President Chau Ta gave a presentation on the main findings of the latest AustCham ASEAN business survey. The survey found that COVID-19 will have a negative impact on business in the next 6 months, but that sentiment has improved since April. At the same time, almost half of the respondents do not anticipate that the economic slow-down caused by the pandemic would be bad for their business. Interestingly, 71% of respondents agreed that business opportunities have emerged from COVID-19.

Dr John Ackermann provided a perspective from the business sector, specifically from the agricultural sector in Indonesia. He mentioned the several issues brought by the pandemic to the sector, such as logistic and transportation issues, commodity price fluctuation, change in consumer habits, etc. At the same time, the current situation also brings opportunities to adopt quickly digital technologies and embrace innovation. He presented the TraNSIT project, supported by the Australian Government, a computer-based tool that maps all agriculture freight from origin to destination by modelling transport route and costs and described how it works in Indonesia.

Dr Intan Ramli gave a presentation on the importance of good regulatory practices in mitigating the impacts of the pandemic in ASEAN. She highlighted the need to promote sharing of information and best practices in handling the pandemic, business consultation support, and public-private sector collaboration efforts; the importance of enhancing partnerships/collaborations between the government and the private sector; and of building on existing trade facilitating platforms in ASEAN. She also mentioned how the use and adoption of science, technology and innovation, and digital economy provide an opportunity and need to be encouraged, for instance by continuing the implementation of the ASEAN Work Program on Electronic-Commerce.

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