KUALA LUMPUR: ASEAN is set to be the world’s fourth largest economy by 2050 based on the current trends of economic growth, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Abdul.
He said it would be the seventh-largest in the world now if ASEAN were seen as one economy, with its combined gross domestic product in 2014 at US$2.5 trillion and US$2.4 trillion in 2013.
“The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) predicts overall annual growth of 5.6 per cent over the next four years. If current trends continue, ASEAN is set to be the world’s fourth largest economy by 2050,” he said in his speech at the ASEAN Business Awards Malaysia (ABAM) 2015 Gala Dinner here last night.
The 6th ABAM is organised by the ASEAN Business Advisory Council Malaysia in recognition of outstanding national sector champions that have contributed positively to the ASEAN economy.
The prime minister said ASEAN is in the process of building on a strong and consistent record.
In terms of per capita income growth, he said ASEAN has dramatically outpaced the rest of the world since the late 1970s.
Najib highlighted the McKinsey report that showed that the number of consumer households earning over USD$7,500 a year will double to 125 million by 2025.
“And with a population over 600 million; larger than either the European Union or North America, our potential market is huge.
“So the work of integrating our 10 nations into an Economic Community is crucial,” he stressed.
Najib said ASEAN integration goes beyond preferential trade access and encompasses specific strategies and approaches to achieve a single market that is competitive, equitable and inclusive.
“Our focus on free trade, fair taxation and transparency is combined with measures to create an open and welcoming economy at home; one that attracts investment, growth, and jobs.
“It’s also an ASEAN approach that in order to achieve sustainable development, it’s essential that the well-being, welfare and livelihood of its peoples are enhanced,” Najib said.
He said Malaysia’s success had been recognised, as attested in the World Competitiveness Yearbook 2014 which ranked Malaysia in 12th place out of 60 economies, and the country aspired to move higher up the competitive ladder.
Najib shared with the audience that there were signs of great confidence in Malaysia, citing the demand for the US$1.5 billion global sukuk raised recently which had been massively oversubscribed.
He further said that earlier this year, Fortune magazine listed Malaysia as one of the seven new best emerging markets.
Najib said there was international recognition that in an unsettled world in which many countries were facing economic challenges, the fundamentals of the Malaysian economy remained strong.
“â€‹This is heartening, for we know that bold steps such as the elimination of fuel subsidies or the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax are not always the most popular but they are necessary.
“This is for the long-term benefit of all Malaysians and that’s what will always be the top priority for my government,” he added.