MANILA, Philippines–The Association of Southeast Asian Nations is seen to grow by 4.9 percent this year, surpassing the global growth projection of 3.5 percent, as the region remains an attractive investment destination.

Last year, the Asean economy grew by 4.4 percent despite challenges in the global economy, the heads of the 10 Asean member states said in a joint statement issued following the 26th Asean Summit held in Malaysia earlier this week.

“Domestic demand in our economies has remained resilient, supported mainly by private consumption. There were robust inflows of investments to the region, which in 2014 stood at $136.2 billion, reflecting a 15.7-percent year-on-year growth. Asean’s total trade was stable in 2014, amounting to $2.53 trillion, a marginal increase of 0.8 per cent from the previous year,” according to the statement.

According to the Asean, the region remained on track with the planned establishment of the Asean Economic Community by Jan. 1, 2016, wherein the region will be transformed into a single market and production base, that would allow the free flow of goods, services, skilled labor, investments and capital.

“In the context of the fully implemented measures to date and the high-priority measures identified by the Asean Economic Ministers (AEM) for implementation in 2015, we noted that the current rate of implementation of the AEC Scorecard stands at 90.5 percent out of 506 measures,” according to the statement.

“We are generally satisfied with the progress in the implementation of the AEC measures, which through the adoption of the frameworks of rules and various liberalization and facilitation measures, is sending a strong signal that the region is moving forward as an economic community by Jan. 1, 2016,” it added.

Since the adoption of the AEC Blueprint in 2007, the implementation of AEC measures has delivered many benefits to Asean businesses and consumers, according to the Asean.

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