Eighty percent of the preparations for implementing ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) have been completed and the rest is expected to be achieved in the next 17 months, Myanmar President and the chairman of ASEAN U Thein Sein said.
The plan for implementing AEC has been conceived in Nay Pyi Taw declaration adopted at the 24th ASEAN summit held in May 2014.
“As the chair, Myanmar will continue endorsing the implementation of AEC in the target timeframe,” the president told a regional meeting.
ASEAN is a market of 609 million people with a combined GDP of $2.5 trillion. Amid the past global economic crises and eurozone crisis, ASEAN has maintained an average annual growth rate of more than 5 percent and is striving to emerge as a successful regional bloc.
The president underlined the importance of setting a vision for post 2015 and also to promote an all-inclusive and people-centered community that can lead to widespread development and share the benefits to even the most marginalised groups in the country.
ASEAN has also worked towards integrating the region and narrow the development gaps among the member countries which succeeded in improving the share of the combined GDP of new members: Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam in the ASEAN GDP from 6 percent in 2009 to 12 percent in 2011, the ASEAN chairman said.
“To implement a politically, economically and socially integrated community in 2015, we have to rally our unified efforts. It is important to improve the competitiveness of ASEAN through integrated and equitable endeavours. ASEAN communication strategy must also be realized,” said U Wanna Maung Lwin, foreign minister of Myanmar.
ASEAN has planned to implement AEC by 31 December 2015 but facing some obstacles in launching the full platform in time.
Currently Singapore is the only nation ready for AEC while Thailand has put in the largest amount of funds in preparation for it. Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia are leading the plan to formulate a post-2015 vision for ASEAN.