ASEAN's economic ministers have pledged to support the association’s newer members in order to narrow development gaps in the grouping, at the 44th ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting in Cambodia. The meeting will run until Friday, 31 August.
Narrowing Development Gaps
“ASEAN gives us the privilege of assistance in order to accelerate our economies and to narrow the gap among the countries,” Laos Minister of Industry and Commerce Nam Viyaketh told reporters on the sidelines of the meeting.
ASEAN’s original members were Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. Membership was later expanded to include Brunei, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.
Addressing the opening session of the meeting on Monday, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen (pictured) said that the development gap among ASEAN members remained huge and the bloc needed to double its efforts to promote further growth and improve equitable distribution of the fruits of growth at both national and regional levels.
The 44th ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting began in Siem Reap, Cambodia, on Monday and will run until Friday, 31 Aug. Ahead of the meeting, economic ministers also held a dialogue with the ASEAN Business Advisory Council on Sunday, discussing efforts to boost public-private sector partnerships in order to achieve the ASEAN Economic Community by 2015.
There will also be meetings on the 26th ASEAN Free Trade Area Council and on the 15th ASEAN Investment Area Council in Cambodia.
Consultations for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership
Proposals to link economies in the Asia-Pacific into a massive Free Trade Area will also be discussed by ministers, including not just ASEAN officials, but ministers from the grouping's trading partners, such as India.
"The consultations will form a key step towards launching the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership which could potentially lead to the establishment of a free trade area comprising about 3.33 billion people," an Indian Commerce Ministry statement said yesterday.
The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership is an ASEAN-led effort to link all of ASEAN's trade agreements with various partners. Besides India, the ASEAN FTA partners include Australia, China, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.
Report: ASEAN ministers vow to narrow gap among nations [Jakarta Post, 29 Aug 2012]
Report: Old ASEAN members pledge support to narrow development gap [Philippine Star (Xinhua), 29 Aug 2012]
Report: 16 Asia-Pacific giant economies plan to open 3.3 billion people market [Economic Times, 28 Aug 2012]