Roundup: ASEAN economic ministers’ meeting to bring about benefits, closer cooperation

In a recent interview with Xinhua, the Ministry of Commerce’s Undersecretary of State and spokesman Penn Sovicheat said it will be another historic milestone for Cambodia to host the AEM for the third time since the kingdom joined the ASEAN family in 1999.. Four strategic issues will be focused on during the upcoming meetings, Sovicheat said, adding that they…

PHNOM PENH, Sept. 13 (Xinhua) — The upcoming 54th ASEAN Economic Ministers’ meeting (AEM) and related meetings will bring about economic benefits and closer cooperation among all countries involved, a senior Cambodian official has said.

The 54th AEM and related meetings, including the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) ministers’ meeting, the East Asia Summit (EAS) economic ministers’ meeting and the AEM-Dialogue Partners Consultations, will be held both in person and virtually from Sept. 14 to 18 in the cultural province of Siem Reap in northwest Cambodia.

In a recent interview with Xinhua, the Ministry of Commerce’s Undersecretary of State and spokesman Penn Sovicheat said it will be another historic milestone for Cambodia to host the AEM for the third time since the kingdom joined the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) family in 1999.

He said the participants will discuss the progress of achieving the ASEAN Economic Community integration, the progress of Priority Economic Deliverables, post-COVID-19 economic recovery, and ASEAN external economic relations.

Four strategic issues will be focused on during the upcoming meetings, Sovicheat said, adding that they include enhancing digital connectivity, science and technology; narrowing the development gap for ASEAN’s competitiveness; promoting a more integrated, inclusive, resilient and competitive ASEAN; and strengthening global ASEAN for growth and development.

“Among these four key strategic thrusts, we’ve proposed 19 economic deliverables, so that’s quite ambitious for the discussions,” he said. “We’re confident that the 54th AEM and related meetings will raise Cambodia’s reputation higher and bring about economic benefits and closer cooperation among all countries involved.”

Sovicheat said as ASEAN has become a community, the concepts of free flows of trade, movement, capital, and services have been in place that signified very close economic cooperation among all member states.

“Looking toward the future, I can say that it’s going to be a strong ASEAN because ASEAN has many external partners and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership has provided the bloc larger market access to its five dialogue partners, namely China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand,” he said.

Joseph Matthews, a senior professor at the BELTEI International University in Phnom Penh, said ASEAN’s economic cooperation has seen steady progress, which can be considered a successful example of economic integration by developing countries.

“The latest great achievement in the ASEAN economic cooperation is the creation and the entry into force of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership trade deal earlier this year,” he told Xinhua. “This mega-regional trade pact will be a booster for the region’s economic recovery in the post-pandemic era.”

Matthews said closer ASEAN economic cooperation has played an important role in ensuring long-term peace, stability, development and prosperity in the region.

Thong Mengdavid, a research fellow at the Phnom Penh-based Asian Vision Institute, said ASEAN has launched many initiatives and blueprints to promote regional economic integration, including the ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint 2025, and the conclusion of negotiations for RCEP.

“The future of ASEAN is brighter and clearer than before thanks to the steady growth of member state’s economy and interconnectivity between them,” he told Xinhua.

Founded in 1967, ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Enditem

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