Asean is demonstrating its confidence in becoming a new global economic powerhouse, which was reflected at a summit held here from May 10-11.
This year’s 42nd Asean Summit was held under Indonesia’s Asean chairmanship.
“We have a strong asset as the epicentre of growth, an economy that grows far above average global economic growth, demographic bonuses and sustained regional stability,” Indonesian President Joko Widodo said on May 10 at the summit’s opening session.
In his remarks at the summit, Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh, quoted by Vietnam News Agency, highlighted three core factors to Asean’s characteristics – values, vitality and reputation – which have helped the regional bloc maintain independence and strategic self-reliance, transform into a growth epicentre and better adapt to external shocks.
In an April report, the Asian Development Bank projected that the economies in the Asia-Pacific region will grow 4.8% this year and next year, up from 4.2% in 2022, adding that growth in the region remained resilient.
Leaders and senior officials are engaging in productive bilateral and multilateral meetings. For example, Widodo met with Pham on May 9 and discussed joint efforts toward a bilateral trade target of US$15bil (RM67bil) by 2028.
In his opening remarks, Widodo mentioned the implementation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) as part of efforts to reinforce inclusive cooperation for Asean in the future.
The trade deal comprises 15 Asia-Pacific countries, including the 10 Asean member states and Asean’s five trading partners, namely, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
According to the World Bank, RCEP, the world’s largest free trade area, contributes US$25.8 trillion (RM116 trillion) or about 30% of global gross domestic product, and accounts for US$12.7 trillion (RM57 trillion) or over a quarter of global trade in goods and services.
Noting that China and Asean were each other’s largest trading partners, Indonesian Tourism and Creative Economy Minister Sandiaga Uno said he saw “the relationship between Asean and China beneficial for the world”.
The International Monetary Fund said in April’s World Economic Outlook report that the reopening and growth of China’s economy will likely generate positive spillover for countries with stronger trade links and reliance on Chinese tourism.
“After China’s reopening, we are looking to achieve more equitable trade between Asean and China,” Uno said. — China Daily/ANN