MANILA – The 10-member regional grouping, ASEAN which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year should take bold measures as it moves forward, Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said today.
“It is the 50th year and we have to do big things. We have to ensure that ASEAN continues to gather momentum towards being a resilient regional grouping.
“We want to transform ASEAN to become an even more inclusive economy by further leveraging on innovation, creativity and digital economy,” he said at the ASEAN Leadership Forum, held here in conjunction with 30th Asean Summit.
Mustapa said ASEAN had very good growth prospects, averaging at 5.4 per cent.
Closer integration has also enabled countries to increase intra-trade among the region, which stood at about 25 per cent now, and invest in each other’s country.
“There are Malaysian companies in this country and companies from the Philippines investing in Malaysia. All these things are made possible by closer ASEAN integration,” he said.
Hence, for the region to continuously progress issues such as Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) must be addressed, he stressed.
“2017 must be the year for ASEAN to undertake bold solutions on this matter,” he noted.
Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, in his keynote address earlier at the Prosperity For All Summit had said that between 2000 and 2015, NTBs and Non-Tariff Measures in ASEAN actually rose from 1,634 measures to 5,975.
“For ASEAN to reach the target economic total of US$9.2 trillion (RM40 trillion by 2050), NTBs and NTMs have to be reduced by 50 per cent,” the prime minister said.
Mustapa said ASEAN should also improve its decision making process, resolve issues through a more rule-based approach and complement the ASEAN way.
And, most importantly, the trade minister aid a people-centered ASEAN has to be the core of all initiatives. – BERNAMA