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77 pct of ASEAN integration completed, target achievable, says Brunei

04-25-2013 17:00 BJT

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, April 25 (Xinhua) -- ASEAN is on target to achieving its integration goal by 2015 with 77 percent of work completed and would intensify engagement with members to improve economic synergies, Brunei's leader said here on Thursday.

Noting that the integration process of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to become a European Union-like community in two years' time was gathering pace, Brunei's Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah told media that the process would continue past the 2015 deadline.

The Chairman's Statement added that the progress of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) was significant with 259 measures or 77. 54 percent of the blueprint implemented.

"We have taken note that since the adoption of the AEC in 2007, per capita income in the region has risen from 2,267 U.S. dollars to 3,759 U.S. dollars in 2009."

Total trade of ASEAN grew by 16.8 percent from 2.05 trillion in 2010 to 2.4 trillion U.S. dollars in 2011.

Meanwhile, intra-ASEAN trade reached 598 billion U.S. dollars, an increase of 15.1 percent.

However, the Chairman's Statement did not detail what measures still need to be implemented under the blueprint.

ASEAN also continued to attract foreign investors, generating a record 114 billion U.S. dollars in 2011, or a rise of 23 percent.

Hoping to spur this momentum, Bolkiah said that ASEAN has also agreed to kick off negotiations on a key regional trade agreement in May.

Titled the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), it aims to be the largest free-trade bloc in the world, comprising all 10 ASEAN nations and the six other countries with which the group has free-trade agreements (FTAs)--China, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand.

"We will hold a conference to increase financial literacy among our people and work to implement a common visa arrangement for ASEAN members where there will be dedicated immigration and emigration lanes. The implementation of an ASEAN business travel card is also an aim so that businesses in our countries can have practical results from our coordination," he added.

There will also be discussions on how to empower small and medium enterprises, develop tourism and promote food security within the ASEAN region.


Editor:James |Source: Xinhua

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