Asean Development Cooperation

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Jose V. RomeroLast of Three Parts

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Promoting Agriculture
Agriculture contributes a substantial portion of total goods and services in Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries. It is but proper therefore that the community cooperate to make this sector, specifically its food production component, an important part of its cooperative planning effort. Along these lines the community is working towards enhancing its competitiveness of its food, agricultural and forestry products in international markets, and the empowerment of its farmers through the promotion of agricultural cooperatives. Emerging and cross-cutting issues such as food security, mitigation of an adaptation to climate change for the agriculture and forestry sector and sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) are also addressed within its priorities.

Through the harmonisation of quality and standards, assurances of food safety and standardisation of trade certification, Asean agricultural products are expected to be ready to compete in the global market by offering safe, healthy and quality foods.

Accompanying this priority is to ensuring food security
Production of tradable agriculture and forest products at the national level is an essential component for the realisation of the above priorities. This calls for an appropriate set of macro-economic policies; country-specific economic conditions; quality education for farmers; adoption of suitable technology and communication and marketing arrangements to enable farmers to access information, capital and inputs for efficient production at reduced cost.

The increase of economically and environmentally sustainable agricultural and forest production, in terms of both quantity and quality, also needs to be addressed.
Strengthening food security and emergency/shortage relief is a core measure in addressing food security in the region. It is aimed at strengthening national food security programs and activities, and developing regional food security reserve initiatives and mechanisms.

Sustainable food production is an important aspect of securing food security, which could be achieved through improving agricultural infrastructure development, minimising post-harvest losses, reducing transaction costs, maximizing agricultural resources potential, promoting agricultural innovation including research and development on agricultural productivity and accelerating transfer and adoption of new technologies.

In addition, food security-related initiatives will be identified and promoted. These include providing an effective market to encourage sustainable growth in food production, encouraging greater public and private sector investment in food and agro-based industry development and strengthening integrated food security information systems (i.e. early warning, monitoring and surveillance mechanisms).

Ensuring a Level-Playing Field
Asean Member States have, in the Asean Economic Community (AEC) Blueprint, committed to endeavour to introduce nation-wide Competition Policy and Law (CPL) by 2015. This is to ensure a level playing field and incubate a culture of fair business competition for enhanced regional economic performance in the long run. Paralleling this effort the enactment of consumer protection laws ensures fair competition and the free flow of correct information in the marketplace.

Protecting Intellectual Property Rights
Intellectual Property (IP) and IP Rights (IPRs) creation, commercialisation and protection have been a significant source of comparative advantage of enterprises and economies and hence a major driver of their competitive strategies.

Transport Cooperation
Asean cooperation in the transport sector aims to realise an efficient and integrated transport system to support the realisation of the Asean Free Trade Area (AFTA) and for Asean to integrate with the global economy. Under the current Asean Transport Action Plan (ATAP) 2005-2010, transport cooperation in Asean is focused, amongst other areas, on enhancing multimodal transport linkages and interconnectivity, promoting the seamless movement of people and goods and promoting further liberalisation in the air and maritime transport services. To facilitate seamless movement of goods in the region, transport facilitation framework agreements to implement the current action plan have been concluded.

Ensuring Energy Security
The overall objective of Asean energy cooperation is to enhance energy security and sustainability for the Asean region, giving due attention to issues of health, safety and environment. energy cooperation, currently carried out under the Asean Plan of Action on Energy Cooperation (APAEC) 2010-2015, focuses on seven main programme areas: (i) Asean Power Grid (APG); (ii) Trans-Asean Gas Pipeline (TAGP); (iii) coal and clean coal technology; (iv) renewable energy; (v) energy efficiency and conservation; (vi) regional energy policy and planning and (vii) civilian nuclear energy.

The Trans-Asean Gas Pipeline (TAGP) involves the construction of 4,500km of mainly undersea pipelines worth about US$ 7billion.

Asean energy cooperation also concerns the promotion of effective competition in the energy market, ensuring a reliable and secure energy supply, and development of a dynamic energy sector in the region.

Tourism Cooperation
The objectives of Asean tourism cooperation are to: (i) facilitate travel into and within Asean; (ii) enhance cooperation in the tourism industry in order to improve its efficiency and competitiveness; (iii) substantially reduce restrictions to trade in tourism and travel services; (iv) establish an integrated network of tourism and travel services in order to maximise the complementary nature of the region’s tourist attractions; (v) enhance the development and promotion of Asean as a single tourism destination with world-class standards, facilities and attractions; (vi) enhance mutual assistance in human resource development and strengthen cooperation to develop, upgrade and expand tourism and travel facilities and services and (viii) create favourable conditions for the public and private sectors to engage more deeply in tourism development, intra-Asean travel and investment in tourism services and facilities.

Promoting Small Enterprises
Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of Asean economies and their development is integral to achieve long-run and sustainable economic growth.
Regional cooperation to foster SMEs is guided by the Asean Strategic Action Plan for SME Development 2010-2015.

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