ASEAN finance chiefs exchange views on expanding market, investments in region

LAPU-LAPU CITY-- Finance ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) had exchanged views on further harnessing investment opportunities within the 10-member regional bloc amid the current slowdown in global growth when they meet in this Central Visayan city last Thursday for the 12th session of the ASEAN Finance Ministers Investors Seminar (AFMIS).

As expected, they discussed at the April 6 meeting the progress of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), which is designed to create a single market and production base within Southeast Asian region through the free flow of goods, skilled labor, services and investments among its 10 member-economies.

The ministers likewise tackled issues on regional connectivity as well as current events and other issues relevant to ASEAN members, including topics ranging from infrastructure investment and e-commerce to trade facilitation and the region's rising consumer market.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III of the Philippines, this year's ASEAN host, and ASEAN Deputy Secretary General Lim Hong Hin opened the meeting, which took place at the Shangri-La Mactan Hotel, by delivering their respective welcome remarks.

Finance Ministers Pehin Dato Abdul Rahman Ibrahim of Brunei Darussalam; Sri Mulyani Indrawati of Indonesia; Johari Abdul Ghani of Malaysia; Apisak Tantivorawong of Thailand; and Secretary of State Sokha Nguon of Cambodia are in attendance the AFMIS and the series of high-level meetings at the Shangrila Mactan Hotel.

A plenary session of the ASEAN finance ministers was held in the morning, followed by a networking lunch with global financial institutions and multilateral companies that have a strong presence in the region.

Founded 50 years ago, ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam into one regional bloc.

This regional group established the AEC, which officially commenced on 31 December 2015, comprising a market of 600 million people or about eight percent of the world's population.

ASEAN is the seventh largest economy in the world with a combined GDP of US$ 2.5 trillion as of 2015.It also has the third largest labor pool and is the world's fourth largest exporting region.

This year marks a milestone for the ASEAN, which will celebrate its 50th anniversary with the Philippines as host. The 2017 ASEAN theme is Partnering for Change, Engaging the World.

Source: Philippines Information Agency

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