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ASEAN: more unity among members needed

Leaders, key officials of ASEAN and East Asia and development partners attend the ASEAN Global Dialogue at the ASEAN summit, Tuesday, Nov. 20, 2012 in Phnom Penh. Photograph: Sreng Meng Srun/Phnom Penh Post

Further comprehensive economic co-operation and expansion among ASEAN’s member states, East Asia and its development partners was imperative for managing risks and impacts from the fragile global economy, Prime Minister and ASEAN chairman Hun Sen said during the ASEAN Global Dialogue yesterday.

The dialogue brought together the leaders and key officials of ASEAN and East Asia and development partners to exchange and seek ways to deal with issues facing the region, such as the global financial crisis, jobs, food, food security and climate change.

According to Hun Sen, the world is still in the grip of the global financial crisis.

“We recognise that if the global economy is still weak, ASEAN definitely cannot escape from the crisis,” he said.

Asian Development Bank president Haruhiko Kuroda, one of the main development partners, said yesterday that as some advanced economies gradually rebuild their balance sheets, Asia’s emerging markets need to diversify sources of growth to boost GDP.

“Tomorrow’s successful economies will focus on effectively transforming themselves through growth that reaches more people, especially the poor,” Kuroda said. “Growth must be more inclusive, green and knowledge-led.”

He said that with 420 million Asians entering the labour market by 2030, job-creation woul remain a daunting challenge for the region.

Infrastructure development is essential to job creation efforts, and in response to ASEAN’s massive infrastructure needs, the ASEAN Infrastructure Fund was created earlier this year.

ASEAN secretary-general Surin Pitsuwan told a press conference yesterday the bloc had done a very good job and had knowledge from lessons learned during its own crisis in 1997, so ASEAN and East Asia countries knew how to protect themselves from financial crisis.

“They appreciate the way we handled our own economic challenges,” Pitsuwan said.

“They acknowledge the fact that we have gone through our own crisis in the late ’90s and we have learned lessons.

“We have made some reforms, and we have instituted better governance for co-operation,” he said.

After the crisis in 2000, ASEAN worked with East Asian countries to create the Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateral Fund — initially worth $120 billion and doubled to $240 billion this year — to insure against financial crises.

Hidetoshi Nishimura, executive director of the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia, said yesterday the Chiang Mai Initiative was a very important achievement.

“This is unique, very unique,” he said. “Even [the] EU doesn’t have [something] like that.”

According to Nishimura, it is a “very strong assurance to do very good business in this area.” He also said it was “a very good absorption to the external shock.”

To contact the reporters on this story: May Kunmakara at
Anne Renzenbrink at



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