ASEAN leaders will flock to the Asean Summit this month to declare their commitment to the Asean Economic Community (AEC) and sketch out their 10-year strategies to increase the region’s competitiveness and draw more investment.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha will lead the Thai delegation to the 14th Asean Summit, which will take place from November 19 to 22 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Commerce Minister Apiradi Tantraporn said Asean leaders will announce their commitment to move forward and strengthen Asean integration as the AEC comes into force on December 31.

“The ten leaders will also outline a vision for the Asean 10-year plan (2016-2025) to tie Asean deeply – in order to ensure the region’s attractiveness for foreign investment, as well as increase competitiveness amid the globalisation era,” Apiradi said.

Under the 10-year mission, Asean will move to eliminate non-tariff barriers after bringing down tariffs for trade in goods and services, continue to liberalise services and investments, and liberalise telecom services by decreasing roaming costs – to establish a uniform rate in each Asean nation – in order to facilitate trade growth.

Asean will also strengthen cooperation in each sector, promote development and cooperation for small and medium-sized enterprises, and support innovation, plus research and development in many sectors in order to increase the competitiveness of every industry in Asean.

The 14th Asean Summit will seek to cut tariffs for almost 100 per cent of trade in goods to zero, and find measures to eliminate non-tariff barriers between member countries.

In addition, the Malaysian government, which will host the meeting, will cooperate with US-based investment consultant BlackRock to invite Asean commissions, representatives of the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, and ministers to brainstorm and exchange opinions to develop the Asean community. They want to boost cooperation in the economy, infrastructure investment and risk management in Asean, |as well as tighten cooperation between the government and private sector.

The summit will also be joined by representatives of Asean trading partners and each Asean member will separately have bilateral meetings with its trading partners, such as China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Russia. – Petchanet Pratruangkrai, The Nation, November 9, 2015 1:00 am