Date: August 2018
A lack of access to financial markets is a common challenge faced by the poor across ASEAN countries. Without access to traditional lines of credit or banking, the poor and undocumented often rely on informal means to manage their money. Moneylending is a form of informal financing that has played an important role in facilitating private sector growth and the livelihood of communities that fall beyond the reach of the formal financial system.
There is much confusion among the public in Malaysia between licensed money lending and loan sharking, negatively tainting the reputation of licensed moneylenders. In addition, some think that licensed moneylenders have the same business model and operate exactly like a bank. To deal with these issues and other misconceptions faced by the industry, a heavy handed enforcement approach has been adopted by the government. These efforts empower the police and authorities with increasing powers, and has resulted in unintended consequences that choke the operations of licensed moneylenders.
Intellectual property protection has a positive effect on all four economic indicators: gross domestic product (GDP), trade, foreign direct investments (FDI) and the level of innovation. The confidence it gives investors leads to inflows of foreign capital that promote technology competition, which in turn fosters innovation. As a result, higher quality goods and service are produced within the country more efficiently. This would increases the competitive advantage of the county in terms of exports and positively impact its GDP growth.
This paper presents the state of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) protection in ASEAN using the Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC) Index and ascertains why some countries have been more successful in safeguarding IPR compared with others. The GIPC Index evaluates the level of IP protection in a country based on 30 indicators. In ASEAN, countries have significantly varied performances with countries like Singapore and Malaysia performing well, while Thailand and Vietnam perform poorly.
Studies have shown that better health outcomes are reached with increased trade openness and human development, particularly in lower-income countries. To facilitate international trade and catalyse economic growth, countries should promote robust intellectual property rights (IPR). A strong and effective IPR system will support, protect and stimulate innovation. It will also encourage transfers of technology and increase the availability of products in new markets.
The link between IPR protection and drug affordability is controversial. The price of medicine is strongly influenced by the considerable amounts of money that is invested by pharmaceutical companies into the development of new treatments, the majority of which fail. Generics have an important role to play in adjusting price mechanisms but are sometimes an unreliable substitute. A number of developing countries have argued that IPR can hamper their ability to intervene in public health matters and decrease accessibility, but this paper suggest that steps can be taken to mitigate these concerns.
Despite a moratorium by the Indonesian government rejecting new logging concessions since May 2011, Indonesia saw 840,000 hectares of forests cleared in 2012 and deforestation levels continue to increase at an alarming rate every year. International experiences have shown that chances of sustainable long-term forest management improve when the ownership and management of forest resources remain with local communities.
This paper is an edited version of a keynote speech delivered by the author at the Conference on U.S-Malaysia Commercial Relations in Kuala Lumpur on 26 August 2015, organised by the American Malaysian Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM) and the US Chamber of Commerce. In the speech, the author explains several myths surrounding traderelated issues in Malaysia today, and he goes on to call the private sector to be more active in engaging the public.