The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) is poised to build on gains made since it started on the path towards integration, former Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo said on Tuesday, but the bloc should also remain committed to a 10-year roadmap unveiled after the Asean Economic Community (AEC) was declared two years ago.
“When we began an economic community in 2015, we also crafted a vision of Asean 2025, that is when we will become a community highly integrated and cohesive, with enhanced connectivity, and central cooperation and a more resilient, inclusive, people-centered community, integrated in the global economy,” Arroyo said during the final day of the Asean Business and Investments Summit.
She warned of an “uphill battle” if the bloc failed to achieve the 2025 vision.
“We need to prevent terrorism from expanding and mitigate climate change.We need to have broken down non-tariff barriers to the free flow of goods and we also need to implement already our mutual agreements in order to trim down the barriers for the flow of labor,” Arroyo said.
“If we hurdle this vision in 2025, in 50 years, we will be in a position to benefit greatly from what is seen as prosperity driven by technology, cleaner environment. If we achieve the vision in that, we will have a chance to be a global force in the next 50 years.”
Arroyo said the region, which she described as the “fastest growing” in the world, was already experiencing the benefits of relationships developed over five decades.
“Asean, which has now expanded from 5 to 10 countries including Cambodia, has kept the peace, expanded our economies and became closer together through trade, diplomacy and greater connectivity. We are proud of what Asean has achieved in the past 50 years in terms of peace, security and economic growth,” she said.
Arroyo said however that there are some challenges that the region needed to address.
“We see a more peaceful world overall, but at the same time we see more nations with nuclear capability and yes, there will still be attempts of terrorism. We see a clearer environment, at the same time however, global warming will continue to affect government policies, economic model and our lives themselves,” she added.