JAKARTA, Oct. 29 — The majority of the ASEAN member states need to pay attention to the risk of being caught by the so- called middle-income trap, ASEAN’s Secretary General Surin Pitsuwan said here Monday.

Surin made the remark as he opened the Fourth Initiative for ASEAN Integration Development Cooperation Forum hold Monday at ASEAN’s secretariat in Indonesia’s capital city. The half-day forum aimed to narrow development gaps and help realize the ASEAN Community by 2015.

“Seven of us are facing the risk of getting no further than the middle income country status, we have to reach 10,000 U.S. dollars per capita on average to get the high income country status,” Surin said.

Surin proposed that the only prescription forward to break away from the trap of middle income for ASEAN is to enhance the economic development performance by restructuring the economic institutions, proceeding more research developments, investing more in education and human resource developments.

Amid sluggish global performance, ASEAN’s growth is set to remain robust this year. Aladdin D. Rillo, Chief Economist ASEAN Integration Monitoring Office said ASEAN is looking at 5.6 percent to 6.3 percent growth in 2012, higher than last year’s 5 percent.

However, some ASEAN countries Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines are stuck at a relatively comfortable level of per capita income (about 7,500 U.S. dollars to 10,000 U.S. dollars) and cannot seem to take the next big step to become a developed nation.

Traditional modality of growth for ASEAN from the beginning has been based on cheap labor, abandoned natural resources and low costs of the environmental protection, the Secretary General said, adding that the modality can be repeated by any other countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, as well as in central Europe.

“It is obvious that to maintain ASEAN’s growth and steady development, ASEAN member states will have to do more in research and design, investment attracting, science and technology development,” Surin added. –Xinhua