Asean countries should maintain their macroeconomic policies including optimal government intervention as opposed to the rapid liberalisation practised in the West, says a Hong Kong monetary analyst.
Prof Edward K.Y. Chen, chairman of the Hong Kong Institute of Monetary Research's advisory council, said countries in Asia should grow gradually.
Opening up too quickly will result in complications if technical and financial capabilities are not ready.
For instance, if capital flows in too quickly, the country's currency and exchange rate will be affected, he said.
"Don't listen too much to the Washington consensus. Now there is an Asian consensus. Unlike the 100% liberalisation of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, we [Asian countries] have been doing it [managing the economy] more prudently with an optimal degree of government intervention. This has enabled many companies to succeed," said Prof Chen.
He pointed out that Asia differs from the West because it grows as a region according to a "flying geese pattern", with Japan as the lead.
When Japan found out its domestic textile industry was not competitive, it invested abroad and industries moved to countries such as Thailand. Now industries are moving from Thailand to other countries.
"Different industry tiers in countries are being passed on as an Asian way of foreign direct investment. In Europe there is no leader and no passing on. We shouldn't allow this practice to disintegrate," said Prof Chen told a seminar.
Sorajak Kasemsuvan, the president of Thai Airways International (THAI), said Thailand could play an important role as the hub that connects five Asean countries by land. He believes sea, land and air transport will be crucial in bringing trade and economic growth to the Asean Economic Community (AEC) and will be an important component for joint security.
"Whether it is rail, road or air links, we have to bear in mind our neighbours will need some help from us, as some Asean countries cannot afford connectivity," said Mr Sorajak.
Mr Sorajak said the carrier cannot afford to be slow or complacent.
"Some people say big fish always eat small fish. I keep telling my colleagues the new business model is fast fish eat up everything. THAI must transform itself into a fast fish or it will lose its share in the market," he said.
Paduka Timothy Ong Teck Mong, the chairman of Asia Inc Forum, urged all Asean countries to harmonise rules and regulations to support the AEC. For example, it takes three days to set up a business in Singapore, 100 days in Brunei and 600 days in Cambodia.
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Writer: Nanchanok Wongsamuth and Piyachart Maikaew