ARFF’S Strategic Vision Unveiled At AOBA 2023 Aimed At Fostering ASEAN Expansion And Global Connectivity

ASEAN Outstanding Business Awards

(from left to right)
Group Photo with ARFF President, Mike Loh; 9th Prime Minister of Malaysia, Ismail Sabri; Deputy Minister of National Unity, Saraswathy Kandasami and AOBA 2023 Organizing Chairman, Raymond Woo

Deputy Minister of National Unity, Senator Sarawasthy Kandasami, officiated the ASEAN Outstanding Business Awards (AOBA), at the Shangri-La Kuala Lumpur. The event was organized by the ASEAN Retail-Chains Franchise Federation (ARFF), with Malaysia’s former Prime Minister, Dato’ Sri Ismail Sabri bin Yaakob witnessing as its Patron for advisory and mentorship. 

In a profound gathering that marked the first AOBA since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2023 edition tonight, witnessed recipients from ASEAN countries including Malaysia, Cambodia, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Brunei, Myanmar, and Singapore, alongside China, Japan, Taiwan, Australia, Hong Kong, and Korea, reaffirming AOBA’s status as the premier cross-border business event in the region.

Deputy Minister of National Unity, Saraswathy Kandasami

As part of its strategic vision for ASEAN expansion, ARFF has facilitated the exchange of multiple Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) between Malaysia, China, and Indonesia. Notably, this includes the establishment of a ‘Hainan Cooperation Park,’ a one-stop business registration, financial management, research and development (R&D), big data, and investment center in the city of Haikou, Hainan, China.

“ARFF stands out as a proud contributor to our nation, leading the way by supporting over 200 members in diverse industries. Through partnerships with global industry players, ARFF facilitates connections and knowledge exchange for its members,” stated Saraswathy, during her keynote address. 

“The MoUs with ASEAN counterparts promise numerous opportunities for the retail and trade sector, allowing them to gain valuable experience and insights into Malaysia’s industry. This initiative also encourages neighboring countries to match Malaysia’s entrepreneurial efforts, positioning Malaysia as a superior destination for entrepreneurship.”

ARFF President, Mike Loh

ARFF President Dato’ Sri Mike Loh said, “This pivotal move will facilitate the penetration of ASEAN markets by participating nations and catalyze Malaysian businesses to forge meaningful relationships with our ASEAN counterparts. We are also establishing a Malaysia Cooperation Center within our trio partnership whereby ARFF will create a center that provides a business-friendly environment, facilitating the establishment of Chinese companies in Malaysia.”

Additionally, the MoU conforms with ARFF’s goal of serving as a bridgehead for China’s Belt & Road (BRI) initiative, also known as One Belt, One Road (OBOR), by leveraging Malaysia’s geographical position. This will facilitate smoother connectivity and trade routes, enhancing the overall infrastructure and economic integration within ARFF’s Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) framework.

Touching on the RCEP, Ismail Sabri highlighted, “This free trade agreement offers significant opportunities for economic growth, providing space for businesses like those who are present here tonight, to expand not only within their respective countries but also internationally, significantly contributing to the overall prosperity of ASEAN.”

AOBA 2023 honored a select group of outstanding individuals and businesses with prestigious awards, including the presentation of the ASEAN Lifetime Achievement Awards to Beijing’s Yihai Group Founder, Linda Wong, and Hong Kong actor, and GINTELL’s international brand ambassador, Simon Yam.

AOBA 2023 Organizing Chairman, Raymond Woo
(from left to right)
Group Photo with ARFF President, Mike Loh; 9th Prime Minister of Malaysia, Ismail Sabri; ASEAN Lifetime Achievement winners Madam Linda Wong and Simon Yam, and AOBA 2023 Organizing Chairman, Raymond Woo

AOBA 2023’s Organizing Chairman Raymond Woo expressed, “Our line-up of recipients has not just earned their awards; their nominations have undergone a rigorous screening process including evaluations of business practices, sustainability initiatives, and community contributions to ensure that they are truly worthy of this honor.”

As 2023 wraps up, ARFF will continue to be at the forefront of Malaysian retail chains, and franchises, amongst other industries. The Federation will be providing industry players with networking events, exhibitions, cultural exchanges, and trade missions in the upcoming year, conforming to its goal of contributing to the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) through the wholesale and retail trade sector.

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For the full list of winners, kindly find it here.