KUALA LUMPUR, April 25 (Bernama) – ASEAN leaders are expected to give greater emphasis to the development of small and medium enterprises (SMEs), towards efforts to propel the region’s economy towards a single market under the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC).

The 10-member grouping is set to pledge to provide a conducive environment for the SMEs and greater access for them to the formal financial system under the KL Declaration to be adopted on Monday, sources said.

The Public-Private Partnership (PPP) will continue be one of the promoted areas.

The declaration is expected to see stronger commitment to narrow the gap between the more advanced economies in ASEAN and those less developed.

The declaration of “A People-Centered ASEAN” will also see the heads of government pledging to make the movement of people, especially skilled workers and talent, much easier.

There will also be commitment to continue capacity building ahead of the AEC to be declared by year-end, the sources added.

As of end-March, 90.5 per cent of the measures towards the AEC, which included tariffs, investments, services, air transport, financial services, Customs procedures and standards, had been successfully implemented.

The remaining 9.5 per cent comprises the 10th services package, single self-certification scheme, chapters with Japan and ASEAN single window.

ASEAN was established in 1967 and Malaysia has now chaired the ASEAN Summit four times, namely, in 1977, 1997, 2005 and 2015.