KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 7 (Bernama) -– Progress on the Asean Economic Community (AEC), a plan to create regional economic integration by 2015, has been very encouraging with 72 per cent of Asean-wide measures under the AEC Blueprint implemented between January 2008 and July 15, 2011.

The AEC Blueprint was launched to provide clear timelines for Asean member states towards the realisation of the regional community with its implementation planned in four phases from 2008-2009, 2010-2011, 2012-2013 and 2014-2015.

AEC is aimed to transform Asean into a single market and production base with free flow of goods, services, investment, skilled labour and free flow of capital.

According to the Economic Report 2011/2012 released by the Ministry of Finance today, Malaysia has completed 83.8 per cent of the measures outlined under both phases as of July 15, 2011.

The AEC Blueprint comprises four characteristics: a single market and production base; a highly competitive economic region; a region of equitable economic development; and a region fully integrated into the global economy.

The report said the realisation of AEC would enhance growth prospects for its member states, especially through its economy size and population, increased intra-regional trade and investment, significant demand for infrastructure development and abundant natural resources.

Among the strategic approaches outlined to realise the four characteristics of the AEC Blueprint are the free flow of goods, services, investment, capital and skilled labour, competition policy, taxation, SME development and intellectual property rights.

“AEC is still work in progress as Asean will continue to engage stakeholders through partnership arrangements, regular consultations with the private sector, industry associations and the wider community at the national and regional levels,” the report said.

Significantly, Asean would continue to play an active role in the global economy commensurate with its status as a vibrant economic region, the report said.