Cambodia PM: AEC a “top priority”

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ASEAN Secretary-General Dr. Surin Pitsuwan speaks at a press conference at the 21st ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh on November 18 © Justin Calderon

The formation of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), attracting finance partners in infrastructure and maintaining regional peace are to be among the main subjects of discussion at the 21st ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said in his opening statement on November 18.

“Realising the AEC by 2015 should remain our top priority,” Hun Sen declared to a room of ASEAN heads of state gathering for the annual summit.

In order to achieve this objective, he said, ASEAN ministers should be encouraged to implement policy measures before 2015 in key areas, including tariff and non-tariff barriers, investment liberalisation, connectivity and transportation, SME development, the Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI) Work Plan, mutual recognition arrangements on professional services and labour mobility, and institution building.

Hun Sen also called for ASEAN ministers to work towards attracting developmental financing, as well as to spell out concrete activities to promote SMEs.

“Although the ASEAN Infrastructure Fund with a budget of approximately $500 million has been put into operation, this fund cannot fully respond to the enormous needs of ASEAN connectivity,” he said.

“ASEAN finance ministers should take necessary measures to attract more financing partners, especially from ASEAN plus 3 partners and multilateral institutions.”

Risk of radicalisation

With sectarian tensions still rife in southern Thailand, Myanmar and the Philippines, managing internal conflict will be a prominent topic of bilateral dialogues among ASEAN leaders.

“Some 800,000 Rohingya [in Myanmar’s Rakhine State] are under pressure,” Dr Surin Pitsuwan, Secretary-General of ASEAN, said during a press conference. “If this issue isn’t handled swiftly, there is a real risk of radicalisation and extremism.”

The summit will also provide a platform for regional leaders to discuss solutions to abating maritime disputes in the South China Sea between China and claimant ASEAN nations.

“Maintaining regional peace and security is indispensable for ASEAN’s prosperity and inclusive growth in the entire region,” Hun Sen said.

Southeast Asia’s increased significance in the global economic landscape has bolstered attention to the resource-rich waters at the center of the dispute. That the role of Asia-Pacific nations has risen in global prominence is an encouraging carrot to solve issues with haste.

“We may have differences,” Pitsuwan said, “but we can manage it. This region has become more important to the world and we wish to reciprocate accordingly.”

The free trade agreement ASEAN has with China has been a success, Pitsuwan continued. Trade between the bloc and China has risen 20 per cent on average since the zone was created.

It is hoped that this increased economic activity will add to a more genial foundation in relations that is adverse to pugnacious follies.

 

 

 

 

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

ASEAN Secretary-General Dr. Surin Pitsuwan speaks at a press conference at the 21st ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh on November 18 © Justin Calderon

The formation of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), attracting finance partners in infrastructure and maintaining regional peace are to be among the main subjects of discussion at the 21st ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said in his opening statement on November 18.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

ASEAN Secretary-General Dr. Surin Pitsuwan speaks at a press conference at the 21st ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh on November 18 © Justin Calderon

The formation of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), attracting finance partners in infrastructure and maintaining regional peace are to be among the main subjects of discussion at the 21st ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said in his opening statement on November 18.

“Realising the AEC by 2015 should remain our top priority,” Hun Sen declared to a room of ASEAN heads of state gathering for the annual summit.

In order to achieve this objective, he said, ASEAN ministers should be encouraged to implement policy measures before 2015 in key areas, including tariff and non-tariff barriers, investment liberalisation, connectivity and transportation, SME development, the Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI) Work Plan, mutual recognition arrangements on professional services and labour mobility, and institution building.

Hun Sen also called for ASEAN ministers to work towards attracting developmental financing, as well as to spell out concrete activities to promote SMEs.

“Although the ASEAN Infrastructure Fund with a budget of approximately $500 million has been put into operation, this fund cannot fully respond to the enormous needs of ASEAN connectivity,” he said.

“ASEAN finance ministers should take necessary measures to attract more financing partners, especially from ASEAN plus 3 partners and multilateral institutions.”

Risk of radicalisation

With sectarian tensions still rife in southern Thailand, Myanmar and the Philippines, managing internal conflict will be a prominent topic of bilateral dialogues among ASEAN leaders.

“Some 800,000 Rohingya [in Myanmar’s Rakhine State] are under pressure,” Dr Surin Pitsuwan, Secretary-General of ASEAN, said during a press conference. “If this issue isn’t handled swiftly, there is a real risk of radicalisation and extremism.”

The summit will also provide a platform for regional leaders to discuss solutions to abating maritime disputes in the South China Sea between China and claimant ASEAN nations.

“Maintaining regional peace and security is indispensable for ASEAN’s prosperity and inclusive growth in the entire region,” Hun Sen said.

Southeast Asia’s increased significance in the global economic landscape has bolstered attention to the resource-rich waters at the center of the dispute. That the role of Asia-Pacific nations has risen in global prominence is an encouraging carrot to solve issues with haste.

“We may have differences,” Pitsuwan said, “but we can manage it. This region has become more important to the world and we wish to reciprocate accordingly.”

The free trade agreement ASEAN has with China has been a success, Pitsuwan continued. Trade between the bloc and China has risen 20 per cent on average since the zone was created.

It is hoped that this increased economic activity will add to a more genial foundation in relations that is adverse to pugnacious follies.

 

 

 

 

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