DOMINGUEZ SEES THE BLOC’S ENTRY INTO THE ‘SOUTHEAST ASIAN CENTURY’

‘Asean an important node of global growth’

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The 10 member-economies of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) are on the right track as they harmonize their policies in preparation for building a strong regional economy at this crucial point of the century, Philippine Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd said.

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Recalling Southeast Asia as a backwater region composed of newly independent nations five decades ago, Dominguez said the region has developed over the years into an important node of growth for the global economy.

“This century, they say, is Asia’s century. From where we stand, it will be more specifically a Southeast Asian century: the time we will see this region flourish to its full potential,” Dominguez said Thursday night.

Dominguez was speaking during the gala dinner for Asean finance ministers, central bank governors, finance and central bank deputies and delegates and representatives of the regional bloc’s multilateral partner-institutions at the Shangri-La Mactan Resort in Cebu.

The 3rd Asean Finance Ministers’ and Central Bank Governors’ Joint Meeting and Related Meetings, which opened on April 3, ended on Friday, April 7.

A 50-year milestone

Established 50 years ago, Asean groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam into a single trade block. Asean is marking a milestone this year with the Philippines, one of its founding members, as chair.

“When the founding fathers of the Asean came together 50 years ago, I bet they did not imagine the extent of regional integration we have achieved today,” Dominguez said.

“The region was divided along Cold War lines,” he said, noting very little trade between countries, and much less investments across borders. “The old lines of colonial jurisdiction made countries strangers to each other and each nation traded more with their former colonial masters.”

“Today is a much different time,” he said. “Southeast Asia is an important node of growth for the global economy. Within the framework of the Asean Free Trade Area (AFTA), we have increased intra-regional trade.”

Dominguez pointed out that Asean economies are well in the process of harmonizing their policies to further lay the groundwork for a regional economic community.

“We are, quite literally, building the infrastructure that will bring our economies closer together,” he said.

“The future bodes well for this region as we harness our talents and our good will to advance the region’s interests.”

“With the framework for cooperation provided by the Asean and the vision of an economic community in the near future, we have been able to tap the synergy of regionalism to each country’s benefit,” he added.
Calling for a toast, he said: First to our forebears, who dared imagine a regional community when there was nary a hint of it and, and second, to all of us who work hard today to make that regional community real.

At a concluding press conference on Friday, the Asean finance ministers and central bank governors said the region remain steadfast in pursuing its goals of achieving a highly integrated and cohesive economy; that is competitive, innovative and dynamic; with enhanced connectivity and sectoral cooperation; resilient, inclusive, people-oriented and people centered; and connected with the rest of the world.

“As such, we shall continue to promote economic growth, financial integration, strengthen financial stability, implement appropriate monetary, fiscal and macroprudential policies in our jurisdictions, and intensify financial cooperation to further advannce our region’s resilience,” they said.

The officials also recognized that domestic demand will remain a key driver of regional growth while structural reforms, public spending, and fiscal stimulus will support investments in the region.

“The future bodes well for this region as we harness our talents and our good will to advance the region’s interests.”

“With the framework for cooperation provided by the Asean and the vision of an economic community in the near future, we have been able to tap the synergy of regionalism to each country’s benefit,” he added.

Calling for a toast, he said: First to our forebears, who dared imagine a regional community when there was nary a hint of it and, and second, to all of us who work hard today to make that regional community real.

At a concluding press conference on Friday, the Asean finance ministers and central bank governors said the region remain steadfast in pursuing its goals of achieving a highly integrated and cohesive economy; that is competitive, innovative and dynamic; with enhanced connectivity and sectoral cooperation; resilient, inclusive, people-oriented and people centered; and connected with the rest of the world.

“As such, we shall continue to promote economic growth, financial integration, strengthen financial stability, implement appropriate monetary, fiscal and macroprudential policies in our jurisdictions, and intensify financial cooperation to further advannce our region’s resilience,” they said.

The officials also recognized that domestic demand will remain a key driver of regional growth while structural reforms, public spending, and fiscal stimulus will support investments in the region.

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