Asean seen much stronger in under 10 years

The Department of Finance (DOF) on Thursday reiterated the importance of strengthening the Master Plan on Asean Connectivity (MPAC) and the Asean Economic Community (AEC) blueprint to achieve the goal of becoming a dynamic regional economy by 2025.

According to Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III, the cooperation between the Philippines and its Asean neighbors is a step to further the country’s development, especially in the trade sector.

The MPAC aims to harmonize customs procedures toward the creation of an Asean single window that harmonizes customs procedures to further enhance trade.

“More extensive cooperation and more intensive integration have been beneficial to the economies of this dynamic region. All our economies are driven to a large extent by trade,” Dominguez said in his opening remarks at the Asean Finance Ministers’ meeting held in Shangri-La Mactan Cebu on Thursday.

He said the Asean Free Trade Area (Afta) provided the country with a framework for dramatically increasing intra-regional trade and investments. This was explained to enable the Philippines to negotiate as a bloc with larger trading economies through the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

“Over the longer term, we envision an AEC that will provide a strong driver for growth among ourselves and global growth,” he added.

It was noted the AEC is a market of 600 million people with a 300-million-strong young labor force and governments steered toward globalization as a means to progress further.

The AEC aims to promote e-commerce in the region, pool resources to develop infrastructure, facilitate trade, and support the rising consumer markets among the neighboring countries.

“Our economies have much headroom for rapid expansion, beginning from a massive infrastructure buildup that  will bring our region increased efficiency.

The regional economy we envision is a truly ambitious undertaking that will require massive investments. But we have momentum and opportunity on our side. The support of the investor community will be indispensable for this undertaking to succeed,” he said.

As of May 2016, 39 initiatives in MPAC 2010 have been completed, with 18 of the completed initiatives tackling physical connectivity 15 in line with institutional connectivity and six in terms of people-to-people connectivity. The remaining 52 uncompleted initiatives in the MPAC 2010 was explained as included in the MPAC 2025.

Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Amando M. Tetangco Jr., said that, despite the diversity in the Asean, collaboration has become stronger.

“The collaboration has become stronger, and this is the key to achieving success in the Asean. In the Asean integration, each jurisdiction will take initiatives at its own pace and own extent as deemed desirable by national authorities. I think, it is really the approach as source of strength and sustainability in the growing cooperation in the region,” Tetangco
said.

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