ASEAN calls for speeding up preparation for economic integration

ASEAN economic ministers Thursday called for all relevant officials in ASEAN member countries to spare no efforts in drafting an economic blueprint to boost the economic integration of the grouping.

According to a joint media statement available here from the ASEAN Secretariat, ASEAN economic ministers made the appeal at the 13th ASEAN Economic Ministers' Retreat taking place in Brunei.

"The Ministers noted that substantial work has been done in drafting the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Blueprint, which contains clearly defined measures and timelines for accelerating ASEAN economic integration by 2015," the statement said.

"They called on all relevant officials to closely coordinate and exert all efforts to complete the AEC Blueprint so that it could be recommended for endorsement by the Leaders at the 13th ASEAN Summit in November 2007," it added.

Economic ministers from the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) gathered in Brunei on Thursday to review and discuss various issues before the 39th ASEAN Economic Ministers' Meeting to be held in August 2007 in Manila, the Philippines, and the 13th ASEAN Summit in Singapore.

The ministers exchanged views on the directions and ambitions for economic integration of ASEAN and agreed that the ASEAN Charter should provide for a broad direction of ASEAN economic integration beyond 2015 toward a closely integrated regional entity.

Meanwhile, they reaffirmed their determination to realize ASEAN 's goal of a competitive single market and production base, with equitable economic development and full integration into the global economy.

They also agreed that the region should be an open, outward- looking, inclusive, and market-driven economy consistent with multilateral rules.

The ministers discussed the need to revise the Framework Agreement of the ASEAN Investment Area (AIA) into a comprehensive investment agreement, addressing it would sustain the growth momentum of foreign direct investment inflow into ASEAN.

In addition, they reviewed the roadmap for Integration of Logistics Services in Southeast Asia in a bid to integrate the region into one seamless market for goods, services and investment.

Source: Xinhua

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