Asean was the fifth-largest economy in the world with a gross domestic product (GDP) of around $3 trillion last year, a significant increase from the seventh place it had five years ago, the 2019 Asean Integration Report said.
Despite growing uncertainty in the global economy, the bloc’s overall economic performance remained promising, with the region’s trade totalling $2.8 trillion last year, an increase of 23.9 per cent from the 2015 figure of $2.3 trillion, the report said.
The region attracted $154.7 billion worth of foreign direct investment (FDI) last year – the highest in history and a 30.4 per cent increase from FDI inflows of $118.7 billion in 2015.
Asean economic integration continued to contribute to the region’s emerging position as a global growth driver, with intra-Asean activity accounting for the largest share of Asean’s total trade and FDI last year at 23 per cent and 15.9 per cent, the report said.
The increasingly integrated Asean economy follows the introduction of the Asean Economic Community (AEC) in 2015.
The AEC is essentially the economic integration of the 10 Asean members, guided by the 2025 AEC blueprint, which provides extensive directions through strategic measures between 2016 and 2025.
It recognises the free movement of skilled labour, goods, services and investment between member countries as key factors.
“It’s important for stakeholders to know where we are after four years of implementation of the blueprint,” Julia Tijaja, director for Asean integration monitoring at the Asean Secretariat, said on Tuesday.
“We note that there have been significant changes in the global political economic landscape that Asean is in, and this is a very different situation from when we first launched the 2025 blueprint.
“It is important for us to take a step back, reflect on what has been achieved so far and see what else . . . we need to do while still working toward the 2025 goals,” she said.
THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK