Private sector plays a critical role in creating a single market for the 10 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), according to ASEAN Secretary General Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, citing an increase in the current 500 companies that invested in the region.

According to Pitsuwan, Asia outperformed other regions when it experienced a 6.9-percent average growth this year due to continuous investments compared to the -0.6 percent for the global economy.

Addressing a roomful of delegates, he said the 10 members of ASEAN need a dynamic sector to “permanently raise the quality of investment and increase productivity.”

The ASEAN chief was addressing delegates to the 7th ASEAN Finance Ministers’ Investor Seminar who gathered last week in Kuala Lumpur to discuss role in economic engagement in the region.

“The governments cannot do it by themselves. It is the private sector that will provide the nuts and bolts for integration,” Pitsuwan said.

“Such partnership is more important now in view of the fast changing economic and financial landscape in a post crisis world,” Pitsuwan added.

Aside from the Philippines, the other members of ASEAN are Malaysia, Indonesia, Burma/Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Singapore and Brunei.

Pitsuwan said member countries need to engage trade and finance sectors in the region’s integration. “It is hard to imagine the region meeting the goal of a single market and production base without great involvement of the private sector and creating a facilitative business environment.”

The finance ministers agreed that ASEAN remains to be an investments haven with a market of close to 600 million people or 8.8 percent of the world’s population.

The ASEAN’s combined nominal gross domestic product (GDP) reached US$1.8 trillion this year. It also ranks as the 9th largest economy in the world, and 3rd largest in Asia. – KBK, GMANews.TV