Good regulatory practices (GRP) refer to the use of tools such as regulatory impact evaluation, stakeholder engagement and ex post evaluation to improve the quality of the regulatory environment for businesses, citizens and society. GRP tools are useful for identifying and reviewing which regulations are essential for achieving given outcomes, ultimately making regulatory compliance as straightforward and meaningful as possible.

For businesses, GRP facilitate a stable and enabling regulatory environment that can help boost investment, trade and entrepreneurship. While GRP benefits businesses of all sizes, they are especially helpful for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Compared with their larger counterparts, SMEs may be less adaptive to – and potentially disproportionately affected by – the stock and flow of regulations. In Southeast Asia, where the vast majority of businesses are SMEs, a regulatory environment ill-adapted to the needs and characteristics of SMEs can significantly undermine the health of the local economy as well as regional competitiveness.

Indeed, policy makers can help SMEs thrive in local communities as well as participate in global value chains by adopting GRP that make regulations easier to understand while simultaneously reducing the time and costs associated with compliance. This applies both to the national context, where SMEs may face a number of regulatory barriers to sustain operation or to grow larger, and to the international context, where SMEs may need additional support to meet varying regulatory requirements.

The OECD has published numerous guidelines and toolkits to help countries (central governments, sectoral ministries, regulatory and competition agencies) adopt regulatory policy, management and governance. These include the OECD Guiding Principles for Regulatory Quality and Performance, APEC-OECD Integrated Checklist on Regulatory Reform and the Best Practice Principles for Regulatory Enforcement and Inspections. The OECD has also worked with individual countries to improve regulatory delivery; for example, it undertook an evaluation of administrative simplification in Viet Nam.

This report presents the first stocktaking of GRP in all ten Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) member countries. It highlights the efforts each government has taken to advance GRP in various areas, including cutting red tape, regulatory oversight, regulatory impact assessment, stakeholder engagement, ex post evaluation, e-government and appeals. As countries continue to move towards an ASEAN single market, co-ordinating GRP implementation will become increasingly important for improving regulatory oversight and reducing cross-border regulatory gaps.

Country-specific policy recommendations are proposed for improving regulatory design, co-ordination, implementation and impact assessment in Southeast Asia. Recommendations are intended to complement ongoing efforts to improve regulatory design and delivery to support the growth of SMEs in the region, in line with best practices.

This work supports the ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint, the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity and the ASEAN Strategic Action Plan for SME Development.

ASEAN government officials and the ASEAN Secretariat have provided significant inputs to this publication. It is part of the Canada-OECD Project on ASEAN SMEs (COPAS) funded by the Government of Canada. The report builds on the work on GRP conducted by the Regulatory Policy Division of the OECD Directorate of Public Governance. The Directorate’s mission is to help government at all levels design and implement strategic, evidence-based and innovative policies that support sustainable economic and social development.