NAYPYITAW: Economic ministers from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) gathered in Myanmar’s administrative capital Naypyitaw on Monday to discuss matters related to economic integration, forming the Asean Economic Community and visions for the post-AEC.
Speaking at the opening session, Myanmar President Thein Sein called on Asean to implement the remaining measures to realize an Asean Economic Community that will be launched next year.
“As the realization of AEC by 2015 is fast approaching, I would like to encourage the Asean member states to make utmost efforts to implement the remaining measures in a timely manner and the AEC Blueprint be implemented expeditiously,” he said.
“We should pay more attention to increase the awareness and involvement of the people and businessmen in the region on the ASEAN Economic Community. We also take note of the support rendered by the dialogue partners for the realization of AEC,” Thein Sein added.
So far, 82.1 percent has been completed on the implementation of Asean Economic Community Blueprint, according to Asean sources.
Myanmar is the current rotating chairman of Asean .
According to the official agenda on Monday, the ministerial discussions will include issuance of an ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement for the lesser-developed members of Asean—Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, tariff liberalization, elimination of non-tariff barriers, Asean trade facilitation, development in customer integration, the AEC Blueprint and Scorecard and sectoral developments.
Myanmar National Planning Minister Kan Zaw, in his opening remarks, said the development gap among Asean countries is “still a great threat” to sustainability to already achieve socioeconomic development of the block that recently marked its 47th anniversary of its founding earlier this month.
The situation calls for further strengthening of unity among the member states to jointly address and fulfill narrowing the gap and to promote the role of small and medium enterprises, he said.
On Wednesday, the ministers will hold their second meeting of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), one of the world’s largest free trade blocs that comprises the 10 Asean members, China, South Korea, Japan, India, Australia and New Zealand.
At the RCEP meeting, the ministers plan to discuss the progress of negotiations on a wider regional agreement involving Asean and its free trade agreement partners.
Asean consists of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.