Economic integration

ASEAN ministers reaffirm commitment to regional economic integration despite pandemic challenges – Xinhua

Participants pose for a group photo during the opening ceremony of the 54th ASEAN Economic Ministers’ Meeting and Related Meetings in Siem Reap, Cambodia on September 14, 2022. (Photo by Ly Lay/ Xinhua)

The meeting expressed optimism that the growth momentum of the ASEAN economy will continue in 2022 and 2023, with growth forecasts of 5% and 5.2%, respectively, according to a joint press release. .

SIEM REAP, Cambodia, Sept. 16 (Xinhua) — Economy ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Thursday reaffirmed their unwavering commitment to regional economic integration in a backdrop of persistent challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic and growing geopolitical tensions, according to a joint press release.

The statement was released at the end of the 54th ASEAN Economy Ministers’ Meeting, which was held in Cambodia’s northwest Siem Reap province.

The ASEAN economy grew by 3.4% in 2021, with growth driven by a strong rebound in consumption, investment and trade, supported by the successful rollout of vaccination programs that have enabled economies to the region to reopen nationally, he said.

He added that the ministers also noted the strong rebound in ASEAN trade and investment in 2021, with trade in goods, propelled by electrical products and fuels, reaching US$3.34 trillion in 2021, up 25.2% compared to the previous year.

At the same time, investments amounted to $174.1 billion in 2021, up 42.3% from the previous year, with strong expansion noted in manufacturing, financial services and insurance, the statement added.

“The meeting noted that by mid-August 2022, the full-dose immunization rate in ASEAN had reached 69 percent, while 30.5 percent of the population had received boosters,” the statement said. “The meeting expressed optimism that growth momentum will continue through 2022 and 2023, with growth forecasts of 5% and 5.2%, respectively.”

Speaking at a press conference after the meeting, Undersecretary of State and spokesperson for the Cambodian Commerce Ministry, Penn Sovicheat, said ASEAN ministers recognized that the conflict in Ukraine had aggravated disruptions in global value chains, further fueled inflation and dampened global economic expectations.

He added that the ministers also stressed that carbon neutrality and the digital economy will be the driving forces for the region’s development in the years to come.

According to Sovicheat, the ministers also noted the significant progress in keeping markets open for trade and investment through the implementation of the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework (ACRF), which serves as a consolidated exit strategy. of the pandemic region.

“Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to work jointly towards a sustainable post-pandemic recovery through the ACRF’s five major strategies around health systems, human security, economic integration, inclusive digital transformation and sustainability,” he said.

Sovicheat said the ministers also adopted the Guiding Principles for the Negotiations of the ASEAN Framework Agreement on Competition (AFAC) and launched the AFAC negotiations, which aim to provide a fair and competitive business environment. in ASEAN.

For the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Free Trade Agreement, he said ASEAN ministers welcomed the entry into force of the agreement on January 1, 2022, which triggered the creation of the largest free trade area in the world.

Sovicheat said RCEP encompasses a third of the global market, generating 30% of global gross domestic product, a quarter of trade in goods and services and 31% of global foreign direct investment inflows.

The mega-regional trade deal includes 15 Asia-Pacific countries, including 10 ASEAN member states – Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam – and their five trading partners , namely China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.