An important study to be released at this ASEAN Business & Investment Summit at Sofitel on Sunday says the ASEAN economies show medium-term resilience but need to narrow the “development gaps” to sustain healthy growth.
The regional economic outlook on Asia’s economic growth, development and regional integration is called the Southeast Asian Economic Outlook 2013 and was prepared by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Development Centre in cooperation with the ASEAN Secretariat.
The report is focused on the ten ASEAN countries and examines relevant economic issues in China and India in order to fully reflect economic developments in the region.
The Phnom Penh Post, through the OECD office, was able to get a Q and A interview with OECD’s Deputy Secretary General Rintaro Tamaki who questions about the contents of the report.
What’s the overall message of your report?
If I had to summarise the main message of the OECD Southeast Asian Economic Outlook 2013, I would say that ASEAN economies show resilience in the medium term but there is a need to narrow development gaps to sustain robust growth.I will talk about it in further details on Sunday afternoon at the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit which takes place in Phnom Penh. I will give an overview of the growth prospects for Asia in 2013-2017; discuss the obstacles that hinder development in the region, we call that ‘the development gaps’ - between countries and within countries; and I will end on a country example – I picked Cambodia since the country welcomes the ASEAN Summit this year.
What are the challenges in the coming years to achieve regional integration?
At the 9th ASEAN Summit Meeting, held in Bali in 2003, ASEAN leaders adopted ASEAN Concord II in which they set out their vision of an integrated ASEAN Community. Narrowing social disparities and economic development gaps among countries are key challenges facing ASEAN. Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI) was launched in 2000 with precisely the purpose of narrowing the development gaps among ASEAN member countries.
Disparities are at their widest in poverty and human resource development. Greater efforts are consequently required in those areas and regional support should prioritise CLMV (Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Viet Nam).
What advantages do you see for Cambodia as part of the ASEAN Economic Community?
Cambodia could enjoy the benefit of the region’s strong growth momentum and demands from ASEAN and its neighbouring countries. The Cambodian economy faces several policy challenges in the areas of agriculture, education and financial sector reform. In particular, in agriculture, it’s important to tap the export potential of milled rice and being ASEAN Economic Community would be an advantage in this context.
What’s the relationship between OECD and ASEAN ?
The cooperation between OECD and ASEAN is strengthening for the past five years. OECD identified Southeast Asia as a region of strategic importance to the OECD at the Ministerial Council Meeting in 2007. Several ASEAN countries participate the OECD seminar and committees.
The Southeast Asian Economic Outlook - started in 2010 and this is the third volume to be launched this Sunday - is one of the product which reflects the increasing relationship with ASEAN. Indeed, this edition of the Outlook is prepared in cooperation with the ASEAN Secretariat. We are pleased to have been invited to present the findings of the report at the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit. And we hope to continue working together.
The Southeast Asian Economic Outlook provides governments and businesses with three types of information: medium-term economic outlook on Asia, structural policy country notes on ASEAN economies, and a special theme, which this year focuses on ‘narrowing the development gaps in the region’. For more information readers can visit the OECD website.
Global Dialogue Agenda for Tuesday, November 20
Introductory Remarks by H.E. Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, Secretary-General of ASEAN
Opening Remarks by Samdech Techo HUN SEN, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia
Intervention by H.E. Mrs Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF)
Key Challenges: As ASEAN responds to the current and possible future global systemic risks and crises, how can the IMF work with Regional Financial Institutions and other regional financial arrangements (RFA) to mobilize sufficient resources to play their systemic role for the benefit of their members? How would the IMF collaborate with the mechanism of ASEAN+3 Chiang Mai Initiative Multilaterization (CMIM)?
Intervention by H.E. Mr. Haruhiko Kuroda, President of the Asian Development Bank (ADB)
Key Challenges: Where can ADB complement its long experience and provide an policy framework for moving forward toward the realization of the new ambitious ASEAN Framework for Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) initiative? What is ADB’s strategic agendas to work with ASEAN, both collectively and individually, in mobilizing savings for trade-related infrastructure and investment to implement the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity, to engage private enterprises in financing of large cross-border infrastructure projects and in conventional and renewable sources of energy projects and to promote sustainable management of water resources ?
Intervention by H.E. Mr. Pascal Lamy, Director General of the World Trade Organization (WTO)
Key Challenges: How can the WTO foster ASEAN competitiveness through effective cross-border facilitation to provide greater market size and bigger economies of scale, and nurture dynamic connectivity linkages with the East Asian and global supply chain and the world economy at large? How can the WTO and other multilateral institutions help firms detect new trade opportunities and assist governments to identify remaining barriers to trade in goods and services and to monitor progress over time in removing barriers and facilitating trade flows? In the context of Aid for Trade, how do the WTO see its role in sustaining the attention of OECD countries in providing official development assistance (ODA) and other forms of official flows in a period of continuing tight budgets, greater fiscal austerity and sovereign debt problems?
Intervention by H.E. Dr. Supachai Panitchpakdi, Secretary General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)
Key Challenges: How can UNCTAD as an authoritative, knowledge-based institution, provide an intellectual platform to help shape domestic and international policy debates and thinking on development to realize the establishment of ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) by 2015? Where could it contribute to the implementation of measures of the four main pillars in the AEC Blueprint, namely a Single Market and Production Base; a Competitive Economic Region; an Equitable Economic Development; and Integration into the Global Economy?
Intervention by H.E. Mrs. Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Managing Director, World Bank
Key Challenges: How does the World Bank see its role in contributing to the implementation of the Phnom Penh Agenda, more specifically, building the capacity of ASEAN to realize the establishment of ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) by 2015? What would be its supportive role to ensure ASEAN food security and to reduce the impact of food price volatility for the most vulnerable people? How could it assist ASEAN to increase production, productivity and investment in the agriculture sector, and to expand cooperation in research and transfer of technology? On climate change, how can the institution work with ASEAN to raise domestic awareness on climate change adaptation and mitigation and to design programmes for the public and private sector gearing towards a low carbon footprint emissions society?
Open Dialogue with ASEAN and EAS Leaders, Head of International Institutions and invited guests.
Closing Remarks by Samdech Techo HUN SEN, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia.
To contact the reporter on this story: Stuart Alan Becker at [email protected]