Jakarta, 7 May 2011

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The ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Council held its fifth meeting yesterday, with Ministers noting progress in the implementation of the AEC Blueprint measures and initiatives.

Chaired by Indonesia’s Minister for International Economic and Financial Cooperation Hatta Rajasa, the meeting was held in conjunction with the 18th ASEAN Summit here.

The Ministers agreed there had been significant achievements — in creating a single market and production base, as well as establishing a competitive economic region. Notable landmark achievements since the last AEC Council meeting included the launch of marketing and branding activities to promote ASEAN as an asset class – with the launch of the ASEAN Exchanges last month, on 8 April.

The signing of the ASEAN Multilateral Agreement on the Full Liberalisation of Passenger Air Services and its two Protocols on 12 November last year deserves special mention — while ASEAN’s Air Services Engagement with Dialogue Partners; endorsement of the ASEAN Tourism Strategic Plan 2011-2015; and ASEAN ICT Masterplan 2015 adopted in January this year are some of the laudable achievements.

The Council emphasised need for greater attention on work in the third AEC pillar on equitable economic development, particularly in addressing SME development and narrowing the development gap. The Ministers remained committed to complete the development of the Framework/Guiding Principles for Narrowing the Development Gaps between the CLMV Member States and the ASEAN-6 and within Member States.

The Secretary-General of ASEAN, Dr Surin Pitsuwan, while noting the good progress made thus far, called for intensification of efforts to ensure integration is on track to meet the establishment of the AEC by 2015.

“ASEAN needs to be fully integrated to remain competitive, strong and attractive to ensure ASEAN centrality in the evolving regional architecture,” said Dr Surin.

Meanwhile the Council also discussed and expressed particular concern on the rising inflationary pressures in ASEAN economies due to various global economic developments, including the volatility of food and energy prices, as well as currency fluctuations. While commending the timely establishment of ASEAN Food Security Framework and its medium-term Strategic Plan of Action, the Council called for coordinated regional macroeconomic and financial cooperation to mitigate such pressures.

AEC Council’s role and functions include identifying cross cutting issues that require collective consideration to deliver AEC priorities and ensuring the effective implementation of and compliance with the relevant decisions of the ASEAN Summit. Under the ASEAN Charter, each Member State shall designate its national representation for each ASEAN Community Council meeting.