KUALA LUMPUR: Economic ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) kicked off meetings Saturday to put the finishing touches to the establishment of the Asean Economic Community (AEC) by year end, while pushing closer ties with its leading trading partners including China.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the 47th AseanEconomic Ministers’ Meeting, Malaysian International Trade and Industry Minister Mustapa Mohamed, who chairs the meetings, said Asean is determined to push forward the economic integration despite challenging political and economic environment.
The 47th Asean Economic Ministers’ Meeting and related meetings, held in the Malaysian capital from Aug. 22 to 25, are expected to deliberate on the implementation of the AEC measures, especially the completion of commitments agreed to under the AEC 2015 Blueprint, the work on developing the Asean Post-2015 Economic Vision 2025 and strategic action plans for the next 10 years, among others.
Asean’s dialogue partners, including China, will join the meetings to discuss ways to strengthen economic ties in such fields as trade and investment.
The 10-nation bloc is set to announce the establishment of Aseancommunity by the end of this year, based on three pillars: political-security community, economic community and socio-cultural community.
The League of Filipino Students (LFS) condemned the APEC meetings being held in Cebu, dismissing it as “a luxurious gathering of vultures.”
“By hosting APEC this year, Aquino will open the floodgates for further foreign economic plunder and exploitation in the country,” Charisse Bañez, the group’s spokesperson, said.
A series of meetings and workshops were held in Cebu starting on Saturday, including the Third Senior Officials’ Meeting. It is deemed the biggest and most important meeting in APEC because it will finalize the deliverables that will be discussed in the Leaders’ Summit in November.
Around 2,000 delegates are expected to attend the 16-day meeting.
According to the APEC advisory, the Senior Officials’ Meeting will tackle the next step for the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) and development of a new Services Cooperation Framework.
But LFS claimed the meeting will focus on US-led business maneuvers to push trade liberalization, destructive mining, and exploitation of workers within the Asia-Pacific region.
“APEC and the Aquino regime is plotting to strengthen American dominance in the Philippines by enforcing severe neoliberal policies. The Filipino people, especially workers and peasants, will be forced to bear the burden of increasing the wealth of monopoly capitalists,” Bañez said.
Asean, established on Aug. 8, 1967, groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.