The ASEAN-CER Integration Partnership Forum

The ASEAN-CER Integration Partnership Forum (IPF), is an annual seminar where we share experiences on economic integration.

Launched at a meeting of the Prime Ministers in 2011 the IPF builds on the free trade agreement negotiated between Australia, New Zealand and the ten ASEAN Member States in 2009.

For all the natural rivalry and competition that will always exist between our two countries... it is together that we seek to improve the lives of all our citizens.

Former Prime Minister John Key, 16 February, 2011, Wellington

Sharing lessons learned

Through the IPF, the CER and ASEAN partners can share the lessons learned in their respective experiences with regional economic integration, including nearly thirty years of the CER/Single Economic Market (SEM) journey and ASEAN’s own challenges and successes with the ASEAN Economic Community.

We took sheltered, insular economies and opened them to the world through the remarkable reforms of the 1980’s and 90’s. At the same time we opened our economies to each other creating a degree of integration that is unparalleled throughout the world.

The Hon Julia Gillard, Former Prime Minister of Australia, 16 February 2011, Wellington

IPF seminars

Seven IPFs have been held to date, covering non-tariff measures and good regulatory practice; general regional economic integration issues; services trade; competition policy; non-tariff measures in agri-food trade, and standards and conformance. Speakers have been drawn from the senior ranks of government, business and academia.

IPF 2024 - Enabling MSMEs to Trade and Internationalise

The 2024 IPF took place on Wednesday 29 May 2024 in Auckland, New Zealand. The Forum’s theme was ‘Enabling Micro-, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (MSMEs) to Trade and Internationalise’. Although over 97 percent of businesses in the AANZFTA region are MSMEs, small businesses continue to be underrepresented in trade. The Forum provided the opportunity for policymakers to explore how best to support MSMEs to become more resilient, agile and successful in operating across borders, including through leveraging cooperation under the new MSME Chapter in the upgraded AANZFTA.

Professor of International Business Siah Hwee Ang of Victoria University of Wellington, gave a keynote on his report on ‘Barriers and Challenges for Internationalising SMEs: Facilitating through Cross-Border Negotiations’. The Forum also heard from Ms Hafimi binti Abdul Haadii, Executive Director of the LVK Group of Companies in Brunei Darussalam, who discussed her work supporting MSMEs around the region and a report from the APEC Business Advisory Council on ‘The New MSME Economy’. A panel discussion explored the ‘MSME internationalisation journey’, featuring Ms Jukhee Hong, Executive Director of the ASEAN Business Advisory Council in Malaysia, Mr Alun Evans, founder of Antipodean Coffee from New Zealand, and Ms Cynthia Dearin, Managing Director of Dearin & Associates in Australia. A second panel offered a deeper dive into digitalisation, featuring Ms Devi Ariyani from the Indonesia Services Dialogue Council; Mr Nikora Ngaropo from NNMD in New Zealand; and Mr Mitchell Pham, Strategic Advisor at TradeWindow and Co-Founder of CodeHQ in New Zealand and Viet Nam.

Key takeaways were that regional economic integration could help to strip out red tape, costs and frictions, and open up the opportunities and networks that were critical to MSME success. Speakers noted the importance of strategic planning and on-the-ground engagement, as well as relationships and cultural sensitivity. They also emphasised the critical importance of digitalisation and a enabling digital environment for MSME success.

See here for the programme and speaker biographies [PDF, 228 KB].

See here for the report commissioned in 2022 by the APEC Business Advisory Council: ‘The New MSME Economy: Post-Pandemic Drivers for Growth(external link)’.

Downloadable copies of the report, commissioned in 2022 by the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in both brief and full versions, are available below.

Previous presentations from IPF seminars


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