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Businesses, public yet to buy into Asean integration: officials
Publication Date : 29-08-2013
As the deadline for the Asean Economic Community (AEC) 2015 looms, economic ministers in the region face the challenge of effectively communicating the importance of an integrated regional economy to businesses and public.
In a statement on the key outcomes of the 10th AEC Council (AECC) Meeting, the 45th Asean Economic Ministers' Meeting and Related Meetings, the Asean said that getting business and the public to support the initiative was among the key challenges faced by the regional grouping.
The meetings were held from August 18 to 21 in Bandar Seri Begawan.
"The 45th AEM/10th AECC recognised that more effort is needed to clearly communicate how the AEC works in order to reassure Asean citizens and secure greater buy-in from them," the statement said.
It added that it is particularly important to address concerns and misconceptions of Asean citizens by clearing up misunderstandings on some AEC initiatives, as well as explaining and highlighting the benefits that AEC 2015 has brought to the region.
Asean also noted that it is crucial to prepare business communities and the public for the changes and challenges that come with any significant policy reforms, acknowledging the continuing issues that member states still need to address beyond 2015, and to continue to promote public and private sector partnerships in support of AEC.
According to the statement, Asean has implemented 79.7 per cent of the AEC Blueprint as of Aug 15, 2013, an improvement from the 72 per cent achieved at the 45th Asean Economic Ministers' Meeting (AEM) in Siem Reap last year.
Last week's ministerial meetings saw discussions of key issues and challenges affecting the AEC, with ministers exchanging views on how to address these challenges.
Asean said that the meetings reaffirmed the importance of deeper and broader regional economic integration in further boosting growth prospects.
Ministers noted that while financial risks have abated and the global economy is beginning to recover, global growth projections have recently been adjusted downward for 2013 because of slower growth in several key emerging market economies, and a still weak euro area.
"To sustain Asean's growth momentum, the 45th AEM/10th AECC agreed to maintain macroeconomic and financial stability, address capacity and supply-side constraints, and continue basic structural reforms such as streamlining regulations, trade and foreign investment liberalisation and facilitation, and investment in infrastructure and human capital," Asean said.
"Finally, as the recent global crises have shown, the growing inter-linkages between Asean and other countries in Asia and the world have made economic integration in Asean more complex and challenging."
"Thus, the 45th AEM/10th AECC recognised that more coordinated actions by policy makers across the region are needed to address common problems brought about by such global uncertainties. In particular, stronger macroeconomic policy coordination has an important role to play in mitigating the risks of spill overs and negative externalities that could hinder trade and investment."
Asean also said that it recently concluded the first round of negotiations with its dialogue partners under the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.