The High-Level Task Force on ASEAN Economic Integration (HLTF-EI) convened at the bloc’s headquarters in Jakarta, Indonesia, to deliberate on the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) 2045 vision.

The September 18 meeting marked the first direct interface focused on the AEC’s post-2025 strategy and aimed to engage the business sector in shaping the long-term vision.

Organised by the ASEAN secretariat and supported by the Australian government through Aus4ASEAN Futures, the event gathered HLTF-EI members, regional business association representatives, national business chambers and ASEAN-based enterprises.

They discussed potential priorities and agendas for AEC 2045.

Netty Muharni, chair of the working group, emphasised the need for comprehensive, inclusive and participatory planning.

“The business community is pivotal to economic growth as job creators, trade drivers and solution innovators,” Muharni said.

Satvinder Singh, deputy secretary-general of ASEAN for the AEC, also highlighted the need for a forward-looking strategy that remains agile and adaptable post-2025. He stressed that the planning should be action-oriented, nimble and inclusive.

The secretariat said the business community expressed appreciation for ASEAN’s proactive stakeholder engagement in designing the goals.

Despite progress in reducing market access barriers, the business representatives called for an ambitious yet realistic AEC 2045 agenda that allows businesses to reap practical benefits. The wider business community has been invited to submit their views and aspirations on the AEC 2045 vision until October.

The meeting is the first in a series of AEC engagement processes that ASEAN plans to undertake in the coming months, including dialogues with think-tanks, civil society organisations and external partners.