Leaders of ASEAN and Partners pose for traditional handshake group photo (Photo: Cabinet Secretary)

JAKARTA (TheInsiderStories) –The Fifteenth ASEAN Economic Community Council (AECC) has concluded 11 South East Asia (SEA) economic priority deliverables, including ASEAN Roll-on Roll-off (Davao – General Santos – Bitung), business-inclusive, 2017-2025 e-Commerce Work Program and ASEAN Seamless Trade Facilitation Indicator.

Under Filipino leadership, the community has made progress on the SEA 2025 Economic Community (SEC) vision, particularly in strengthening cross-sector and cross-border cooperation, including e-Commerce, Good Regulatory Practices, Global Value Chains, ASEAN Food Safety Regulatory Framework and ASEAN Business Travel Cards.

The economic priority deliveries are expected to improve trade, investment and connectivity of those living and working in the South East Asian region.

‘SEA is currently the sixth-biggest economy in the world and third-biggest economy in Asia, with total members’ GDP at US$2.55 trillion as of end-2016. Trade value among its members has reached $2.24 trillion, of which 23.1 per cent is intra-trade. Meanwhile, investment in the region totals $98 billion, of which 25 per cent is intra-SEA investment,’ Imam Pambagyo, International Trade Negotiation General Director at the Ministry of Trade, explained.

SEA members have implemented 52 per cent of its commitment toward the priority of the 2025 vision, from which Indonesia has already implemented 60 percent.

Meanwhile, ASEAN is also ready to cooperate with other economic regions, including the EU, the second-largest trading partner for ASEAN and the largest foreign investor.

European Council President Donald Tusk previously promised to double funds to support the Association of Southeast Asian Nations integration and also devotes over 2 billion euros in bilateral cooperation with all ASEAN countries.

The 31st ASEAN Summit in Manila was held in Manila on Nov. 10-14, and attended by leaders of the member states of the Association and their partners. ASEAN includes 10 countries — Brunei, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar — with a total population of more than 600 million people.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of ASEAN, which is focused on economic integration and growth, and consensus-building. ASEAN countries are now beefing up regional integration through the ASEAN Economic Community and stronger connectivity within the region.

In September of last year, the ASEAN Summit, held in Vientiane, adopted an Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI) Work Plan III and the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity (MPAC) 2025, an integral part of ASEAN 2025: Forging Ahead Together, in a bid to strengthen determination to advance the ASEAN community-building process.

During their 30th summit held in April in Manila, ASEAN leaders 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.

ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Written by Yosi Winosa, email: yosi.winosa@theinsiderstories.com

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