THE ongoing talks between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) and its economic partners under the aegis of the Asean +6 could help consolidate the region’s gross domestic products (GDP) estimated at $22.4 trillion, equivalent to a quarter of the world’s annual GDP.
“An integrated market of more than three billion people, a combined GDP of about $22.4 trillion, which is almost one-fourth of the world’s current annual GDP,” Senen Perlada, director of the Bureau of Export Trade Promotions said on Wednesday.
The Asean population is estimated to account for over 47 percent of the world’s population.
The Regional Comprehensive Economic Cooperation (RCEP) negotiations are ongoing to consolidate the Asean+6 free trade agreements (FTAs), with 16 negotiating rounds already complete.
The RCEP is an economic partnership between the 10-member Asean, plus Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.
According to Asean, the key to forming an Asean+6 economic partnership may be the moves made by India, which has a large population and tremendous growth potential.
India has been pursuing economic reforms since 1991. Compared to the countries of East Asia, it has many domestic regulations and external barriers, which constrain economic freedom.
Within the Asean+6 framework, not just governments but also the private sector must extend cooperation in human resource development and infrastructure.