2013 Oct 23
October 23, 2013

Speed up integration, Asean urged

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BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN—The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) must speed up its community building and integration processes amid rapid developments in the region and the world caused by globalization, said the Asean-Korea Centre’s secretary-general on Monday.

In a speech delivered at the opening of the inaugural Asean Connectivity Forum held in Seoul, Chung Hae-moon underscored the significance of the Asean Connectivity and initiatives undertaken by South Korea to support the goal.

“Resolved to ensure sustainable development and the need to strengthen existing bonds of regional solidarity to reinforce its centrality in the region, Asean envisioned an Asean Community by 2015 which will contribute toward a more competitive and resilient Asean, as it will bring people, goods, services and capital closer together,” he said.

“In light of rapid developments in the region and the world resulting from globalization, Asean must continue to strive to maintain its role in regional cooperation and integration by accelerating its own integration and community building process.”

Chung noted that in a bid to realize the aim, Asean had developed a master plan on Asean connectivity which is designed to enhance regional and national physical, institutional and people-to-people linkages.

Adopted at the 17th Asean Summit in 2010, the Asean Master Plan on Connectivity is a concept that envisions a well-connected Asean to bring people, goods, services and capital closer together and has made continuous progress to enhance physical, institutional and people-to-people connectivity.

The center’s secretary-general pointed out that to ensure the smooth implementation of the master plan, there is a need to collectively work towards a common goal, as well as ensure the development and enhancement of connectivity among Asean member- states, particularly from the private sector, industry association to the wider community at the regional and national levels as well as its dialogue partners, including South Korea.

“In fact, [South] Korea has been an active partner to Asean’s community building efforts and its commitments have been continuously acknowledged by Asean leaders in various summits,” the secretary-general said.

“Most recently, the Asean leaders expressed their appreciation to [South] Korea for its unyielding support for Asean’s community building process and Asean’s central role in the regional architecture during the 16th Asean-ROK Summit on October 9 in Bandar Seri Begawan,” he said.

He said Asean-South Korea relations have strengthened since establishing ties more than two decades ago.

The regional bloc is now the second largest trading partner for South Korea and the largest destination of South Korea’s investments abroad, “while serving as a test bed for [South] Korean culture to advance to the world stage,” Chung said. –Asia News Network/MCT