News / Asia

ASEAN Looking Inward Amid US, EU Economic Woes

ASEAN Secretary General Surin Pitsuwan speaks during an interview in Nusa Dua in Indonesia's resort island of Bali, July 20, 2011. (file photo)
ASEAN Secretary General Surin Pitsuwan speaks during an interview in Nusa Dua in Indonesia's resort island of Bali, July 20, 2011. (file photo)

Economic ministers throughout East Asia are meeting Wednesday in Indonesia to discuss the impact of a potential economic slowdown in the United States, European Union And Japan.

They are gathering for an annual commerce, trade and investment conference organized by the Association Southeast Asian Nations.

In an interview with VOA, ASEAN Secretary General Surin Pitsuwan says the economic woes of the rest of the world will encourage more regional integration.

He adds Wednesday's meetings are likely to focus on the downgrading of the U.S. credit rating, the volatile swings in stock markets around the world and concerns about how signs of economic stagnation in other parts of the world may affect Asia.

“That is going to have psychological impact. That will have a direct impact on investment mood, on the availability of resources and on the consumption," he says. "Confidence of the consumers in the U.S. which will certainly impact on us, at least in the medium term and long term. Short term we probably can manage, but long term we still need the largest economy of the world to be humming.”

Southeast Asian countries have seen an increase in foreign investment of more than 100 percent from $37 billion in 2009 to $75 billion in 2010.

Surin says, although an economic slowdown in Japan and the West would hurt growth in Asia, investment in ASEAN countries from within the region has also grown to more than $12 billion in 2010. Surin says he expects economic ministers in the region to focus on improving intra-ASEAN investment, to reduce trade barriers in Asia and become less dependent on exports to Japan and the West.

“These are the figures that are rather encouraging for us. How we are going to maintain this in light of what happened in Japan, what happened in the U.S. now, what happened in the Euro zone, that is going to be quite a challenge, but I think the answer would be regional market, regional integration, regional cooperation."

ASEAN has looked to the EU economic community as a model for its own economic integration plans.

But Surin says the difference in the level of political and economic development in members like Burma and Singapore limits such plans in the short term.

And he says recent experiences in the EU, where strong economies like Germany are being asked to help bail out struggling members like Greece, may make ASEAN countries members concerned about ever adopting measures like a single currency that would limit economic independence.

“If anything, integration in the Euro zone tells us that integration can also be negative, that we will be exposed to each other's problems, that one country's problem can drag everybody else down the same hole," Surin says. "So if you want to go on the road to integration you have to be extremely careful that you have measures that can manage the downside of integration.”

The ASEAN-led economic conference in Indonesia will include meetings of the 25th annual ASEAN Free Trade Area, the 14th annual ASEAN Investment Area Council and other groups supporting the economic integration of the 600 million people living in Southeast Asia.

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnelsi
X
July 24, 2014 4:42 AM
The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video MH17's 'Black Boxes' Could Reveal Crash Details

The government of Malaysia now has custody of the cockpit voice and flight data recorders from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was hit by a missile over Ukraine before crashing last week. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports, the so-called black boxes may hold information about the final minutes of the flight.
Video

Video Living in the Shadows Panel Discussion

Following a screening of the new VOA documentary, "AIDS - Living in the Shadows," at the World AIDS conference in Melbourne, a panel discussed the film and how to combat the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid