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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs     18  December 2010

Asean discusses seamless linkages

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Improved linkages within the ASEAN community in terms of transportation, information exchange, trade and freer people movement would encourage growth, enhance trade and boost investment, speakers said at a symposium yesterday.

They would also promote deeper ties among ASEAN peoples, foster a sense of shared cultural and historical bonds and strengthen ASEAN Community building efforts..

The symposium was run by the Vietnam Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the High-Level Task Force on Asean Connectivity and the Asean and East Asia Economic Research Institute.

The event shared information about the master plan expected to lay the foundation for wider, seamless regional linkages in Asean and East Asia regions in the future. It also discussed ways to improve the mechanisms to make this happen.

Pham Quang Vinh, assistant to the Foreign Affairs Minister and Chairman of the Asean senior officials in 2010, said the symposium was organised to collect views and comments on ways to implement the Master Plan on Asean Connectivity.

"Entering the last month of 2010, it can be affirmed that Vietnam's responsibility as the Asean Chair in 2010 has successfully concluded, achieving all its set targets and priorities," Vinh said.

Nguyen The Phong, deputy Minister of Planning and Investment of Viet Nam and Chair of the High Level Task Force on ASEAN Connectivity, said the idea was to promote regional integration, narrow the development gap within the bloc and strengthen its role as the hub of a wider connected region in the future.

The master plan was adopted by Asean leaders at the 17th ASEAN Summit in October. Takio Yamada, ambassador of Japan to Asean, said the initiative was essential for the regional bloc to achieve its lofty goal of Asean integration by 2015.

"It will also be conductive to making Asean an even more dynamic and resilient economy though the promotion of infrastructural, institutional and people-to-people connectivity. "We are of the view that a dynamic and resilient Asean is in the interests of Japan, and the opposite is also true. This is the rationale behind our active contribution to the Asean Connectivity initiative," Yamada said.

Japan was ready to cooperate in the implementation of the master plan by establishing a coordination mechanism, such as a joint committee comprising the Japanese task force and the coordination agency on the Asean side, he said.

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