Photo by Secretariat of ASEAN

JAKARTA (TheInsiderStories) – Heads of State and Government of ASEAN member States reaffirmed their commitment that the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development will be implemented in a mutually-reinforcing manner to build a truly inclusive and people-oriented, people-centered ASEAN Community for the benefit of our peoples. The communique gathered at the 30th ASEAN Summit in Manila on April 19 under the Chairmanship of the Republic of the Philippines with the theme “Partnering for Change, Engaging the World,”.

“We were pleased with the progress made in the implementation of the APSC Blueprint 2025 since its adoption in December 2015 to bring about a rules-based, people-oriented, people-centered ASEAN Community that is peaceful, stable, resilient, and outward-looking. We looked forward to the first review and evaluation of the APSC Blueprint 2025 in 2018,” President Rodrigo Roa Duterte said in a press statement.

Currently. ASEAN’s combined GDP stood at US$2.55 trillion in 2016 with a robust year-on-year real GDP growth rate of 4.7 percent despite the challenging global environment. The leaders  noted that growth in the region’s economy is expected to accelerate to 4.8 percent in 2017 supported by solid growth of private consumption and investment as well as expansionary fiscal policy.

The ASEAN’s merchandise trade remained resilient at US$1.06 trillion in the first half of 2016, of which 24.02 percent was intra-ASEAN. The association also note that ASEAN also attracted a total of US$52.94 billion foreign direct investment inflows, in the first half of 2016, of which 23.36 percent was intra-ASEAN.

“We emphasized the importance of continuing to promote initiatives that directly benefit the people of ASEAN, including the need to redouble efforts to increase intra-regional trade and investment,” said Duterte.

To boost the export between the countries in the ASEAN regions, the leaders will realize the ASEAN RO-RO shipping network, particularly the maiden voyage of the ASEAN Roll-on Roll-off (RORO) Sea Linkage Route between Davao–General Santos (the Philippines)– Bitung (Indonesia), which is has been launched on April, 30 in Davao City, Philippines. The initiative would enhance the connectivity of archipelagic ASEAN and further facilitate trade and tourism, as well as provide greater impetus to the implementation of multimodal transport in the ASEAN region.

Duterte explained, the efforts made to enhance our ASEAN Plus One Free Trade Agreements has a good progress in the negotiations of the ASEANHong Kong, China FTA towards the targeted conclusion within the year. ASEAN community also welcomed the launch of formal region-to-region talks on a framework setting out the parameters of a future Free Trade Agreement between ASEAN and the European Union.

“We welcomed the progress made in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations. We emphasized that the sluggish economic environment and trends toward protectionism increases the need to achieve a modern, comprehensive, high-quality and mutually beneficial RCEP Agreement, which has the potential to boost global economic growth, deepen regional economic integration and facilitate equitable economic development for all RCEP Participating Countries (RPCs),” He stated.

The leaders also welcomed the strengthening of economic cooperation with Dialogue Partners through the renewed ASEAN-Japan 10-Year Strategic Economic Partnership Roadmap, the implementation of U.S.-ASEAN Connect, the 2016-2020 Work Plan to implement the ASEAN Canada Joint Declaration on Trade and Investment, the Post-2015 ASEAN-Russia Trade and Investment Cooperation Work Programme, and the 2017-2018 ASEAN-EU Trade and Investment Work Programme.

At the end his speech, Duterte expressed concern over the adoption of the Resolution on Palm Oil and Deforestation of Rainforest by the European Parliament on April, 4 which discriminates against oil palm cultivation by singling it out as being the largest contributor to deforestation, to the detriment of the palm oil industries in the region.

“We urged the European Union to recognize the certification of the Sustainable Palm Oil Schemes in the countries concerned which is a manifestation of our commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals,” Duterte said.

Regional, international and South China Sea

The ASEAN leaders reaffirmed the importance of maintaining peace, stability, security and freedom of navigation and over-flight in and above the South China Sea. ASEAN welcomed the operationalization of the guidelines for Hotline Communications among the ministries of foreign affairs of ASEAN members and China in response the Implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea. The also welcomed the progress to complete a framework of the code of conduct in the South China Sea by middle of this year.

“We recognized the long-term benefits that would be gained from having the South China Sea as a sea of peace, stability and sustainable development. We reaffirmed the need to strengthen cooperation and constructive dialogue on maritime security, maritime safety, maritime environment, and other maritime issues, including search and rescue, piracy and armed robbery against ships at sea, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and other crimes related to fisheries, and other crimes at sea, through ASEAN led-mechanism such as the AMF and EAMF, ARF, ADMM, and ADMM- Plus,” he says.

The leaders expressed their concern over recent developments in the Korean Peninsula, including the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s two nuclear tests in 2016 and subsequent ballistic missile launches. The leaders urge the North Korea to immediately comply fully with its obligations arising from all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions and stressed the importance of exercising self-restraint in the interest of maintaining peace, security and stability in the region and the world.

The members reiterate our full support for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and for concerned Parties to explore all avenues for immediate dialogue.

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