PNoy attends Cambodia meet on ASEAN economic integration

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (MindaNews/02 April) — Philippine President Benigno Simeon Aquino is joining Southeast Asian leaders here for a two-day meet starting Tuesday to discuss the progress of the
continuing economic integration efforts and adopt fresh strategies that will facilitate the full realization of the region’s goals to become a single regional community by the year 2015.

Aquino is expected to arrive here Monday evening to attend the 20th ASEAN leaders’ summit and 45th anniversary celebration that will formally open Tuesday morning at the Nuon Srey Hall of the Office of
the Council of Ministers’ Peace Palace, said Philippine Ambassador to Cambodia Noe Wong.

“It will revolve around the ASEAN purpose of attaining the one ASEAN community goal,” he said in a statement.

Wong said this goal focuses on the integration of the 10-nation bloc through the institutionalization of ASEAN’s political security community, economic community and socio-cultural community pillars.

He said the strategies towards the achievement of such goal were outlined in the ASEAN community blueprint that was adopted by the regional body in 2009.

ASEAN comprises the Philippines, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, Myanmar, Singapore, Indonesia and Brunei Darussalam.

Based on the 20th ASEAN Summit schedule issued by Cambodia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the 10 heads of state will meet for a plenary session on Tuesday morning before heading off to a series of interface dialogues with representatives of the ASEAN inter-parliamentary assembly, civil society organizations and the youth sector.

A signing ceremony is also scheduled for various agreements finalized in the series of preparatory sessions of ASEAN senior ministers.

Trade Undersecretary Adrian Cristobal, who attended the ASEAN economic community meeting on Monday, said they pushed for measures that would ensure the country’s full participation in the region’s economic integration efforts.

Cristobal earlier said among the strategies that they identified was the increased participation of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the planned regional economic community as well as enhanced trade facilitation.

He said they would also actively participate in the ASEAN working groups in trade, services and investments.

On Sunday, Cristobal represented the Philippines in the 11th consultation-meeting between ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM) and the EU Trade Commission headed by EU Commissioner for Trade Karel De Gucht.

In a joint statement, the ASEAN economic ministers said they reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen trade and investments with the EU through the strategies earlier endorsed under the ASEAN-EU trade and investment work programme.

It said the work programme aims at enhancing economic cooperation as well as address emerging challenges and opportunities for enhanced trade and investment between ASEAN and the EU, which is presently the region’s second largest trading partner and the biggest source of investment flow.

The ministers stressed the importance of the World Trade Organization (WTO as a strong multilateral trading system, which has been successful in promoting free trade and reiterated their commitment to
this “stable, transparent, and rules-based system.”

“The Ministers also agreed on the importance of enhancing ASEAN-EU cooperation in the area of trade facilitation and look at the possibilities for region-to-region trade facilitation initiatives to further enhance intra- and inter-regional trade,” it added. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)