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Asean inches closer to economic integration

Group accomplished 82.1% of blueprint targets
/ 12:13 AM September 01, 2014

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) has inched closer, albeit at a slower pace, toward the establishment of the Asean Economic Community (AEC) with less than a year and a half until the self-imposed due date of end-2015.

According to Asean economic ministers, the 10-member bloc has accomplished 82.1 percent of the blueprint for regional integration.

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However, this was just an improvement of a few points from the 79.7 percent that the ministers reported in August 2013. A year before  that, in the same month of 2012, the accomplishment level was pegged at 72 percent.

“(S)ome of the remaining measures will have a strong bearing on the impact of the AEC 2015 and (we) resolved to make greater efforts to ensure expeditious implementation of the pending measures in the key deliverables and the Asean Blueprint,” the ministers said in a joint statement.

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This followed the wrap-up last week of the 46th Asean Economic Ministers Meeting held in Burma (Myanmar). Trade Secretary Gregory L. Domingo represented the Philippines.

While progress appears to have slowed down with just 16 months left, the ministers said that what has been achieved so far “were undertaken in a challenging environment of a global financial crisis in 2008 and slowing growth in the developed countries.”

The officials said they were “encouraged by the beneficial impact of regional integration in mitigating, to some extent, the impact of these global challenges on Asean’s economic performance and competitiveness.”

They also pushed for the development of an “AEC Post-2015 vision” that would guide the regional grouping over the next 10 years.

Asean groups the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Brunei, Cambodia, Burma, Laos and Vietnam.

According to the Jakarta-based Asean Secretariat, the 10 countries altogether mustered a 5.1-percent rise in gross domestic product (GDP) in 2013, which was valued at $2.4 trillion.

Based on current prices, Indonesia was the biggest Asean economy with $863 billion while the Philippines was fifth with $269 billion.

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In terms of per capita GDP, Singapore was wealthiest with $55,183 while the Philippines was sixth with $2,707.

Last year, Asean countries traded goods amounting to $2.51 trillion, an increase of 1.4 percent from $2.48 trillion in 2012.

In 2013, Asean countries shipped out $1.3 trillion worth of goods and brought in $1.2 trillion in merchandise. Exports grew 1.3 percent while imports improved by 1.5 percent.

Foreign direct investment inflows from outside the region were valued at a total of $106 billion in 2013, up 7.5 percent from $93.6 billion previously.

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TAGS: ASEAN, Business, economic integration, economy, News
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