Asian Leaders Discuss the Progress and Challenges with ASEAN Integration.
Regional leaders from across government, business, academia, multilateral institutions and non-government organisations (NGOs) came together today at The Economist Events’ South-East Asia Summit to discuss the political, economic and strategic rationale for South-East Asian nations seeking a more integrated region. The event, held inJakarta at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, Mega Kuningan, brought together more than 160 high-level executives to explore how greater regional integration is affecting South-East Asia’s economic growth and its interaction and connections with the rest of Asia.
During the keynote panel discussion, Idris Jala, Minister in the Malaysian Prime Minister’s Department and Chief Executive Officer of the Performance Management and Delivery Unit (PEMANDU), expressed how South-East Asia was moving from a loose neighbourhood of states to a connected regional community, through greater political, economic and social integration and the growing importance of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), in the lead up to the ASEAN Economic Community 2015. However, Jala remarked on how ASEAN still faced many challenges.
“The first challenge is that ASEAN countries are at very different levels of development…There has to be a self-assessment of where each country is in terms of achieving goals set down by ASEAN. A consolidated assessment of where we are. We will then know where the gaps are…ASEAN was never intended to be like the European Union, nonetheless though, if we really believe in greater ASEAN integration, we need to move to greater compliance with ASEAN Economic Community obligations and commitments.
“If you want ASEAN to progress, we need to define the obligations for collaboration and then define the rules for competition. The private sector wants clear rules….There is tremendous opportunities for companies laying a footprint across ASEAN, but we need to lay down clearer frameworks for them.”