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

Will Cuba Follow the Southeast Asia Model?

Decision to restore ties between US and Cuba has some debating whether it will lead to an enhancement or regression of democracy on the Communist island nation More

Kenyan Designer Finds Her Niche in Fashion Industry

‘Made in China’ fabrics underlie her success More

Report: CIA, Israel's Mossad Killed Senior Hezbollah Commander

The Washington Post story says Imad Mughniyah was killed instantly by a bomb "triggered remotely" from Tel Aviv by Mossad agents 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.
Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Lateri
X
Deborah Block
January 31, 2015 12:12 AM
Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid