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The US and Europe could no longer power the world economy, but ASEAN economies are in a better situation right now to face the global uncertainties, said the Vice President of Indonesia, H.E. Prof Dr Boediono here today when he declared open the 43rd ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting and Related Meetings.

Citing the global volatilities of the recent weeks, he said all ASEAN economies were affected by the global financial crisis, but relatively sound fundamentals and quick responses rewarded ASEAN with a rebound by 2010.

Looking West, he reminded the audience that “In the recent weeks, we have seen the uncertainties being created in the US with the protracted debate on the debt ceiling, potential for a double dip recession and most recently, the downgrade of the US sovereign rating. In Europe, we have seen the difficulties in managing the debt packages of Greece, Ireland and Portugal, and the anxieties of a debt crisis spreading to Italy and Spain.”

“What does all of this mean to us in ASEAN? Since the 2008 global financial crisis, it is evident that the US and Europe could no longer be the main engines of growth of the world economy.”

He added that the strength and relevance of regional cooperation will once again be tested as ASEAN faces uncertainties in the global economy and the rather shaky functioning of multilateral institutions and governance. But he reminded the audience that the best responses would be to be vigilant and be prepared with national and regional policy responses and cooperation.

On competition, said ASEAN has the need and scope to substantially raise competitiveness across ASEAN economies and for ASEAN as a whole. He reminded the audience that ASEAN needs some clear thinking on what ASEAN Centrality means in practice. Looking East this time, he cited “ASEAN is faced with a large and increasingly powerful Chinese economy in the North, and a huge Indian economy in the West is also making rapid progress.”

“The region will ultimately need to define its role and competitive strengths at the crossroads of these two emerging economic giants.”

The 43rd ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting and Related Meetings will run from today until Sunday, August 14 in Manado, North Sulawesi.