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ASEAN to follow through with inclusive, equitable development to sustain growth

08/06/2022 12:00 PM

KUALA LUMPUR, June 8 (Bernama) -- The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) has to follow through with inclusive and equitable developments, leaving no one behind in order to achieve sustained growth, be it in a crisis or in good times.

Malayan Banking Bhd (Maybank) chairman Tan Sri Zamzamzairani Mohd Isa said the transition to a more digital, borderless and low carbon economy would challenge the region as workers may get displaced. 

Realising that the importance of sustainability is growing, he said there is a need to continuously embed environmental, social and governance (ESG) principles into an organisation's decision-making process. 

"This can include diversity, equity and inclusion, or DEI policies and practices for boards, senior management members and organisations as a whole. Not only is it the right thing (to do), it is backed by sound business cases that have proven to be rewarding.

"As leaders, we must include more diverse voices -- people who may not look or sound like us, or who did not go to the same school -- but who can, nonetheless, contribute meaningfully," he said virtually in his welcoming speech at the Invest Asean 2022 conference today. 

Meanwhile, Maybank's group president and chief executive officer Datuk Khairussaleh Ramli, in his opening speech, said he is optimistic about the growth in the Asean six comprising Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Brunei, under the bank's coverage as borders reopen in the first half of 2022. 

He said a Maybank analysis showed that sustainability actions impact positively on an organisation and companies that forge ahead with their sustainability ambitions are expected to be more compelling investments.

"Home to the fastest growing population in the world and expected to be the fourth largest economic (bloc) by 2030, Asean is an extremely attractive destination for businesses and investors. 

"Asean’s growth this year is expected to be higher than China’s for the first time in 30 years," Khairussaleh said.

He said Maybank also back-tested about 190 companies under its research coverage across the Asean-six; those with higher ESG ratings, as measured by Sustainalytics, generated excess returns over the MSCI All Country Asean Index by 8.4 per cent year-on-year, and 3.9 per cent per annum for three years to March 31, 2022, respectively.

“Having said that, investors remain cautious about headwinds from tightening global monetary policies, a US and China slowdown and the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict. 

"Adding to these concerns include the climate change debate and the need for tangible plans to start reducing its medium- to longer-term impact within Asean economies.

“Therefore, it is key for us to find a sustainable approach that fosters shared prosperity and unlocks productivity across segments of the population," he said.

As the largest banking group in Malaysia, Khairussaleh said Maybank aims to become part of its clients’ journey towards sustainability. 

On the commitment to mobilise RM50 billion towards sustainable financing by 2025, the bank has already achieved over RM13.6 billion in the financial year ended 2021. 

It has also disbursed RM11.4 billion in financing to support small and medium enterprises (SMEs) across Asean while over 500,000 households have benefited from its community programmes in 2021.

Maybank is hosting Invest Asean 2022: Framing A Future (June 8-9) in Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Bangkok, Jakarta, Manila and Ho Chi Minh City in a hybrid approach.



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