50th ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting opens in Singapore
Updated : Thursday, August 30, 2018 10:44 AM (GMT+0700)

The50th ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM 50) Meeting and Related Meetingskicked off in Singapore on August 29 with the participation of economic leadersfrom 10 ASEAN member states and partner countries.

Delegates take a photo at the opening - Photo: VNA

The Vietnamese delegation,led by Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Quoc Khanh, participated inthe meetings.

In his speech at the openingceremony, Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong highlighted theestablishment and development of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations(ASEAN).

He said the bloc hastremendous economic potential with a strong market of over 630 millionpeople. 

The grouping’s GDP growthhas averaged 5.4 percent in recent years, well above the global average, and isprojected to expand around this rate over the next five years, he noted.

ASEAN is forecast to becomethe fourth-largest economy in the world by 2030, just behind the US, China andthe European Union (EU), he said.

Lee added that strengtheningregional economic cooperation and integration is the key for ASEAN to fully tapits potential, including pressing on with the implementation of the ASEANEconomic Community (AEC) Blueprint 2025, as well as supporting an open andinclusive multilateral system amid growing trade tensions.

Escalating trade tensionsbetween the US and its key trading partners have put pressure on therules-based multilateral trading system, which has underpinned ASEAN’s growthand prosperity, he said, adding that each ASEAN member state is also subject todifferent pulls and pressure from bigger powers. 

In these circumstances, allthe bloc’s members must stay united and strive to maintain cohesion and exertsignificant efforts to reach the signing of the Regional Comprehensive EconomicPartnership (RCEP) at the end of this year to strengthen economic linkages andenhance trade and investment flows, Lee stressed. 

Singaporean Minister forTrade and Industry Chan Chun Sing, who is the AEM chairperson, said ASEANleaders are pushing ahead with some initiatives to further enhance regionalcooperation, specifically in the fields of digital connectivity, customsclearance and tourism.

He added that theestablishment of the AEC in 2015 brought benefits to businesses and customersin the region. Most of non-tariff barriers have been diminished with lessstringent and more transparent service regulations. The implementation ofbusiness investment rules has helped promote intra-bloc trade.

AEM 50 will run untilSeptember 1 with a series of related meetings such as the 32nd ASEANFree Trade Area (AFTA) Council Meeting and the 21st ASEAN InvestmentArea (AIA) Council Meeting. 

ASEAN economic ministers aredue to meet with their counterparts from dialogue partner countries namelyAustralia, Canada, China, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand,Russia and the US.

The sixth RegionalComprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Ministerial Meeting, the 11thMekong-Japan Ministerial Meeting, and the 10th Cambodia, Laos,Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV) Economic Ministers’ Meeting will be held as part ofAEM 50.

Founded in 1967, the ASEANnow groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, thePhilippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.


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