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Decisively managed AEC seen to offer major benefits
Publication Date : 21-08-2014
Deeper regional integration within the Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) holds great promise for shared prosperity if decisively managed, according to a newly published report.
The study, entitled “Asean Community 2015: Managing integration for better jobs and shared prosperity”, reveals that the Asean Economic Community (AEC) to be introduced in 2015 could accelerate economic growth and structural change and double productivity in some Asean economies. It could generate 14 million additional jobs and create new opportunities for prosperity for around 600 million women and men living in the region.
“The gains will not be distributed evenly between countries, economic sectors or between women and men. Unless it is decisively managed, regional integration could increase inequality and worsen existing labour market deficits, such as vulnerable and informal employment, and working poverty,” said the study prepared by the International Labor Organisation (ILO) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
It said that to counter this, member states needed to develop policies and institutions that supported inclusive and fair development.
“In particular, there is an urgent need to improve the quality, coverage and sustainability of social protection, starting with the establishment of a social protection floor for all,” the study added.
Asean secretary-general Le Luong Minh, ILO assistant director general and regional director for Asia and the Pacific Yoshiteru Uramoto and ADB regional economic integration office director Arjun Goswami were present at the launch of the study in Jakarta on Wednesday.
The AEC, which will come into effect at the end of 2015, will allow a freer flow of skilled labor services, investment and goods among 10 Asean member countries.
By 2015, high-skilled jobs are projected to grow by 14 million (41 per cent) while medium-skilled and low-skilled jobs will grow by 38 million (22 per cent) and 12 million (24 per cent) respectively.
The report predicts, however, that skills shortages and skills mismatches are likely to worsen due to the inadequate quality and availability of education and training.
“Investment in labour productivity is critically important for the sustained development of Asean,” said Goswami.