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

Jihadist Assassin says Goal of Tunisia Murders Was Chaos

Abu Muqatil at-Tunusi’s remarks in a propaganda interview also cast light on attack on Bardo Museum More

Russia Denies License to Tatar-Language TV Station in Crimea

OSCE official says denial shows 'politically selective censorship of free and independent voices in Crimea is continuing' More

Kenyan Startups Tackle Expensive Remittances Through Bitcoin

Some think services could give Western Union a run for its money, though others say it’s still got a long way to go 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.
For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leadersi
X
Aru Pande
April 01, 2015 9:09 PM
The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leaders

The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Buhari: Nigeria Has ‘Embraced Democracy’

Nigeria woke up to a new president-elect Wednesday, Muhammadu Buhari. But people say democracy is the real winner as the country embarks on its first peaceful handover of power since the end of military rule in 1999. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Abuja.
Video

Video Tiny Camera Sees Inside Blood Vessels

Ahead of any surgical procedure, doctors try to learn as much as possible about the state of the organs they plan to operate on. A new camera developed in the Netherlands can now make that easier - giving surgeons an incredibly detailed look inside blood vessels, all the way to the patient’s heart. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Latin American Groups Seek Fans at Texas Music Festival

Latin American music groups played all over Austin, Texas, during the recent South by Southwest festival, and some made fans out of locals as well as people from around the world who had come to hear music. Such exposure can boost such groups' image back home. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Stockton Community, Police, Work to Improve Relations

Relations are tense between minority communities and police departments around the United States following police shootings that have generated widely-publicized protests. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Stockton, California, where police and community groups are working toward solutions, with backing from Washington.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

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