Business : South Korea, Asean Can Make Regional Economy Inclusive, Dynamic, Says Najib

From Ahmad Fuad Yahya

BUSAN (South Korea), Dec 11 (Bernama) — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Abdul Razak has asked South Korea to remain as Asean’s strategic partner in working towards a dynamic grouping for Asia and for the world.

South Korea, he said, can help ensure the regional economy becomes inclusive as it was dynamic.

Korea and Asean were engaged in at least four frameworks namely the Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Economic Cooperation, Asean Plus Three Cooperation, East Asia Summit and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

“The RCEP brings life to the concept of the pivot towards Asia. The 10 Asean member states together with the six partners, contribute almost 30 per cent of world trade.

“By the middle of this century, that figure could rise to 50 per cent,” he said at the closing of the Asean-South Korea CEO Summit.

Najib, arrived here Thursday for a two-day visit to attend the Asean-South Korea Commemorative Summit, after ending his three-day official visit to Seoul.

The Prime Minister said deeper economic integration through the RCEP could bring significant opportunities for the region’s economies.

“So, I call on you to actively work with us as we make RCEP a reality,” he told participants of the CEO Summit.

Najib said Korean enterprises continued to contribute to the economic advancement of Asean, driving development by supporting fast-growing businesses and investing in the future of the dynamic region.

“And, now together they must set the direction for Asean-Korea relations for the next decade,” the premier said.

South Korea, with a total trade of US$ 135 billion, is Asean’s second largest trading partner and Asean’s fifth largest source of foreign direct investment.

Over the last three years, Korean investment in the region reached US$ 7 billion.

The Prime Minister also hoped South Korea would show Asean the way and lead the grouping besides providing invaluable support to the region’s small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

Korea, he said has shown the world how economic transformation can be a continuing journey and has moved from a growth model driven by family-owned conglomerates to one that also encouraged the participation of SMEs.

“One major concern in Asean is the impact of liberalisation on our SMEs, which makes up more that 95 per cent of our enterprises.

“As such, we must ensure that these entities are plugged into the global supply and value chains, that they too benefit from deeping economic integration,” he said.

Najib said Malaysia would assume the Asean chair next year and it would hold a special significance for the grouping as it would also see the Asean Community becoming a reality.

It is a bold and challenging move that would pave the way for a new era in Asean cooperation with deeper regional economic integration and stronger connections between Asean’s 600 million people, he said.

“An integrated Asean is good for business. But, for the Asean Community to have meaning, the people of the 10 member states must feel and think Asean.

“It is for these reasons that we have chosen the theme, “Our People, Our Community, Our Vision during our chairmanship.

“We have to make Asean relevant for all of our citizens,” Najib said, adding that the initiatives and activities in the coming years would involve youths, women entrepreneurs, SMEs and the business community.

The prime minister said during Malaysia’s chairmanship, Asean states would work together to craft their post-2015 agenda with priority accorded to ensuring that integration would lead to equitable wealth creation and distribution.

“We must deepen financial integration and inclusion. We must ensure all sectors of our economies are fully engaged in the Asean Economic Community.

“Our ambitions are clear, to drive broad social and economic development and growth, and to ensure Asean become increasingly competitive,” said Najib.

The premier said the Asean Community must also be reflected with improved governance, more transparency and a stronger regional focus on sustainable development.

He added that there should also be a high sense of business ethics so that the regional integration could bring benefits to many and not just a few.

“We have much to do, and we value the partnership of our friends and allies as we seek to build a more connected Asean.

“I ask that Korea remains our strategic partner as we start a course towards deeper economic integration. A dynamic Asean is a rising tide – for Asia and for the world,” he added.


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