SINCE the adoption of the Asean Economic Community (AEC) Blueprint in November 2007, per capita income in the region had risen from US$2,267 to US$3,759 in 2012.
The total trade for Asean grew by 16.8 per cent, from US$2.05 trillion in 2010 to US$2.4 trillion in 2011, as intra-Asean trade reached US$598 billion from US$520 billion, an increase of 15.1 per cent, over the same period.
Asean also continued to attract foreign investors, generating a record US$114 billion FDI inflows in 2011, a 23 per cent increase from US$92 billion in 2010.
Highlighting the issues discussed in the 22nd Asean Summit yesterday, Le Luong Minh, Asean Secretary-General in a press conference voiced Asean leadersí optimism in the progress towards realising the Asean Economic Community. He said 259 measures, or 77.54 per cent of the AEC Blueprint, have been implemented by the end of March 2013.
Speaking to the media on the remaining 22 per cent or so of measures to be implemented, Mr Le Luong Minh explained what remains to be done from now to 2015 are enormous tasks which require greater efforts.
The Asean Secretary-General said these include measures that relate to trade facilitation, such as those in investment, transportation and customs.
According to him, these measures will have a high impact on the process of building the regional economic community by 2015. He said to achieve this, the leaders have endorsed some deliverable measures in 2013, and those to be delivered for the period until 2015.
Meanwhile, Mr Le Luong Minh, in the conference noted that Asean leaders realised the need to enhance Asean competitiveness by better facilitating trade and investment and leveraging upon ongoing work to establish the AEC.
Therefore, Asean leaders have tasked their ministers to develop a roadmap that will set out initiatives to ease the way of doing business, address investment impediments, institutionalise discussions on regulatory improvement and incorporate innovation policies into Aseanís efforts.
To further supplement facilitation efforts, the Asean leaders also reiterated the need for the development of an ĎAsean Business Travel Cardí to ease the movement of Asean business people and investors, and also to establish visa-free travel for Asean nationals within Asean countries.
Asean leaders also welcomed the progress made towards realising the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), where negotiations will commence in May 2013 in Brunei Darussalam, with a view to completing them by 2015.
Leaders also looked forward to the broadening and deepening of existing Asean+1 FTAs and envisioned the RCEP to be a platform for future trade and investment integration in Asia and the rest of the world.
Le Luong Minh also noted that Asean leaders welcome the decision of the Asean Economic Ministers to engage Hong Kong on a bilateral basis for an Asean-Hong Kong Free Trade Agreement that will be mutually beneficial for the Asean people.
The leaders also welcomed Bruneiís initiative to convene an Asean Conference on Financial Literacy this year to provide a platform for policymakers, academics as well as other relevant stakeholders to share experiences and understanding on best practices in effectively promoting financial literacy in the region.
- Borneo Bulletin
(26 April 2013)