ASEAN KEY DESTINATIONS
'Asean more relevant now'
Volatility in regional stock markets and currencies has made Asean even more relevant.
Malaysia's International Trade and Industry Minister Mustapa Mohamed said Asean’s bid to create a single market and production base had gained greater urgency due to the external uncertainties.
“One lesson we can learn from the current volatility in currencies and markets is that there is an even greater need for us to work more closely together.
“The current challenging situation will motivate us even more, and give an even bigger boost to our efforts to achieve economic integration,” he told reporters at the end of the 47th Asean Economic Ministers Meeting (AEM) and related meetings here yesterday.
The Asean trade ministers meeting held for the past four days took place amid growing external economic worries.
A surge in the US dollar has caused havoc in the currency market of many countries, while fears of a major slowdown in China’s economy have led to a sharp plunge in regional and world stock markets.
Mustapa said closer economic integration was important for Asean because it would allow the region to better face external challenges.
Asean aims to announce the formation of the Asean Community at the end of this year, which will comprise three pillars, namely the economic, political security and socio-cultural.
The region, noted Mustapa, had gained much from closer integration, resulting in political stability, a sharing of best practices and a reduction in income gaps between member countries.
“The current challenging condition emphasises the point that we must now work even harder to realise the Asean Community.”
Mustapa said Asean must help coordinate the economic policies of its member countries more closely in light of the current external uncertainties.
“We already have blueprints for the Asean Economic Community and another for Asean Small and Medium Enterprises, so we should make sure that these shared blueprints lead to more convergence in our respective economic policies,” he added.
Mustapa said he was happy that delegates and participants at the meetings increasingly referred to Asean not as a collection of 10 countries, but as a single economic entity.
He said progress in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) talks, where ministers from the 16 countries involved agreed to finalise the modalities of the proposed free trade pact, was a major achievement of the 47th AEM.
“The RCEP and our ability to make progress in the talks to set it up show that Asean can contribute to deeper economic integration not just in our region, but the world.”
Asean’s 10 member countries and six dialogue partners, namely Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand, are in the RCEP.
Letters that do not contain full contact information cannot be published.
Letters become the property of AseanAffairs and may be republished in any format.
They typically run 150 words or less and may be edited
submit your comment in the box below