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Category: Cambodia

Meeting the Swedish Ambassador in Bangkok

DSC04172Mr Staffan Herrström (right), Swedish ambassador in Thailand
(Photo by Ms Karin Herrström)

Today I had the great pleasure of meeting the Swedish ambassador Mr Staffan Herrström at his office in Bangkok.

Large Geographical Area

The Embassy of Sweden in Bangkok covers a large area, being not only responsible for the Swedish connections to Thailand but also Lao PDR, Myanmar and Philippines, although Philippines is about to get its own representation from Sweden.

New to the Assignment but not to the Tasks

Staffan Herrström began his assignment as ambassador in Thailand in the beginning of September 2015.

In my opinion he quickly put a personal touch to his work, among other things by publishing monthly letters on the embassy’s webpage. These monthly letters are well written and an enjoyable reading about his work as an ambassador and the Swedish achievements in the region.

As a Swedish resident in Thailand I don’t want to miss out on this monthly reading 🙂

I presented my view on the development of The ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in general and the conditions for small and medium sized enterprises (SME) in particular.

Staffan Herrström represents Sweden in four of the ten member states of ASEAN and is understandably engaged in the ASEAN development, as well as AEC. He pointed me in interesting directions for further contacts, something I definitely will follow up during the summer.

BAS Chart of Accounts

I presented the in my opinion unique Swedish concept with a de facto standardized chart of accounts, and the possibilities of exporting the concept to other countries and regions. Staffan Herrström showed great interest, although not being an economist.

Instead he widened the perspective and asked me how big the trade barriers can be for SME when crossing state borders.

I expressed my opinion that these trade barriers are huge for SME, since they don’t have their own internal resources to deal with different regulations in different countries but have to buy consultancy help in each case. This is a big difference compared to large and listed companies, which often have a lot of internal competence and also resources to pay for assistance when needed.


We also talked about issues common with The ASEAN CSR Network. Staffan Herrström recently met Mr Thomas Thomas, whom I met in Singapore in early February (Meeting ASEAN CSR Network).

Supporting Cambodia

Another topic was the Swedish governments newly launched ”Ten measures against tax evasion” (In Swedish: Regeringens 10 åtgärder för att motverka skatteflykt), which among other things involves capacity building in our neighbor country and ASEAN member state Cambodia with the assistance of The Swedish Tax Authority.


Staffan Herrström is of course a very busy person, so I was happy that he could and wanted to spare the time to meet me.

We had good discussions and after the meeting I went to the nearby Landmark Hotel. There I had, for once, a luxury second breakfast feeling that life is good 🙂

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Meeting ASEAN CSR Network


ASEAN CSR Network: Mr. Thomas Thomas and Mr. Jerry Bernas meeting Mr. Peter Berg
ASEAN CSR Network: Mr Thomas Thomas, Mr Jerry Bernas and myself

Last week representatives of ASEAN CSR Network  (ACN) had the kindness to receive me at their office in Singapore.

Operation of ACN

ACN was established 2011 with support from ASEAN Foundation and Japan-ASEAN Solidarity Fund (JASF). ACN says on its web site that ”Promoting Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)’ is identified as an integral strategy in ensuring sustainable and inclusive socio-economic development in ASEAN”, based on blueprint signed by the heads of all ASEAN member states.

The mission of ACN is ”To promote and enable responsible business conduct in ASEAN to achieve sustainable, equitable and inclusive social, environmental and economic development”.

Represented member states

So far business organisations from seven of the ten member states in ASEAN are represented in ACN, namely founding organisations from Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand and participating organisations from Myanmar and Viet Nam.

A short-term priority is to achieve representation from all the member states, where today Cambodia, Laos and Brunei Darussalam are missing.

The meeting

Our meeting originated from a recommendation to me by the Swedish Development Cooperation (SIDA) after a meeting we had at the Swedish Embassy in Bangkok, see my post Meeting SIDA from December 3, 2015.

Mr Jerry Bernas, Programme Director at the ACN secretariat, hosted the meeting which took place on February 2 in their Singapore office after a month of planning. He generously told me about their experiences of working at regional and national level. He is himself a Philippine national, although located at the Singapore office, and could as such combine the regional work with national contacts when needed.

Later Mr Thomas Thomas, Chief Executive Officer of the ACN secretariat and a Singapore national, joined us. He was found to have impressive detail knowledge about the accounting world, although he’s presently not working in the area.

Mr Jerry Bernas and Mr Thomas Thomas gave me plenty of information about their work and also gave me an opportunity to present myself and my expertise.

The need for harmonized accounting for SME

I presented my view of the need of harmonized accounting regulations for small and medium sized enterprises (SME) within ASEAN, in the wake of launching the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) 2015. I believe this area is often neglected and rests in the shadow of implementing regulations for large and listed enterprises. However, the SME represents a huge number of entrepreneurs and enterprises so very much is to be gained by supporting them with suitable and simplified regulations.

There are several connections to CSR, such as increased possibilities of digital accounting and increased development of digital communication between entrepreneurs and authorities. Digitalisation in theses areas can reduce paper use, which is of environmental interest and supports sustainability. Digital contacts with the authorities can also reduce bureaucracy and prevent unforeseen effects of personal variations in official decisions .

There is also a CSR angle in an easier understood linkage between accounting and taxation for SME, enabling them to pay their share without too heavy administrative and bureaucratic burdens. This also increases the possibility of foreseen official decisions without personal variations.

Thank you

We discussed possible touchpoints between us before Mr Thomas Thomas had to leave.

Mr Jerry Bernas concluded the meeting by whishes of keeping in touch. I thank you both for your willingness to spend this time with me!


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