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Growth Will Remain a Top Priority at The ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting in Siem Reap

Siem Reap, 27 August 2012

Siem Reap is home to the world’s biggest Hindu temple  complex – the  Angkor Wat – which sits  proudly in the centre of the Cambodian flag. This week, the city will take a  little break from history, as Cambodia host the ASEAN Economic Ministers  Meeting.

“If you look at the partners attending the AEM, you will  realize that some of the most important economic powers are here. ASEAN is  already a collection of 10 robust, promising economies. Together with China,  India, the United States, Russia, South Korea, Japan, etc, you have the world’s  biggest consumer markets, the world’s leading R & D bases, the world’s  leading sources of raw materials, as well as the world’s richest sources for  investment,” said Dr Surin Pitsuwan, Secretary-General of ASEAN.

“The message may not be totally new, but the fact remains  that economic uncertainties hovering around the world, many will be watching  here for answers. We may not be able to save the world single-handedly, but if  we are able to maintain healthy robust growth in ASEAN and the Asia-Pacific, we  will help to hold the ship together. We will provide the lead time for Europe  to get back on its feet,” he added.

Pointing out the need to stay focused, and to keep faith  with open markets, Deputy Secretary-General Lim Hong Hin from the ASEAN  Economic Pillar, cautioned against the emergence of protectionism.

“As of 2011, ASEAN’s intra-trade had accounted for a  quarter of our total trade. If you add our trade with key partners like China,  Japan, the EU and the US, you are looking at a very important cornerstone of  our healthy economic growth. That growth has helped to raise the living  standards of many of our peoples, but there are many more who are waiting for  their turn to enjoy the fruits of economic development. We cannot afford to  fail them,” said DSG Lim.

The week-long meetings will bring together the economic  ministers of the 10 ASEAN Member States of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos,  Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. The  ministers will hold dialogue with partners like China, South Korea, Japan,  Australia, New Zealand, India, the United States, Canada and Russia.

In an earlier interview with the Phnom Penh Post,  Cambodia’s Senior Minister and Minister of Commerce,  HE Cham Prasidh, said that Phnom Penh will push  forward with plans to reduce the development gap among ASEAN member states  during Cambodia’s chairmanship of ASEAN this year.

Narrowing the development gap is one of the main  objectives of the ASEAN Economic Community. Earlier efforts by the grouping,  combined with the positive investment climate in Asia, had helped boost  Southeast Asia as one of the fastest growing areas in the world. This in turn,  has raised the optimism of turning ASEAN into a single market, and a single  manufacturing base.

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