The 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) should go for a measured pace to achieve a successful single-market community as the 2015 target for an economic integration draws near, an official of International Monetary Fund (IMF) told GMA News Online.

The ASEAN integration should be done in a well-phased manner, IMF Deputy Managing Director Naoyuki Shinohara said in an interview on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Makati City Thursday.

“Integration is good for the economies… So, it has to be pushed… but if you push it too hard, it will collapse,” he said. “So, it has to be in a measured pace for the integration to proceed.”

By 2015, the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) sets in motion the creation of single market and production base for the 10-nation bloc which groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. The AEC is envisioned as a single market characterized by the free-flow of goods, services, skilled labor, investments and capital.

ASEAN is taking a “measured, gradual integration rather than a “big-bang type” of integration and that’s okay, Shinohara said.

“Considering the state of economies in this region, I think it is quite reasonable that they take measured approach,” he said. “It is a decision each government has to take to determine the pace of integration,” the IMF official noted.

Integration should make sense in a region rich in diversity, presenting huge opportunities for further growth and in addressing growth gap among member nations, he said. “The countries in this region are diversified in terms of level of per capita income, development.

“This integration means huge opportunities for high-income countries to make investments in low-income countries because there are a lot of investment opportunities,” he said.

“While from a low-income country’s viewpoint, it means huge inflow of investment as well as knowledge and technology, and also job creation,” he added. – VS, GMA News