As one of ASEAN’s most important Development Partners, Germany is making headway in helping Member States tackle the challenge of narrowing the development gap (NDG) in the region. With a view towards the ASEAN Economic Community 2015, Germany’s support to regional economic integration in ASEAN is exhibited by its initiative to strengthen the capacities, particularly of the newer ASEAN Member States of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Viet Nam or CLMV countries. This commitment was expressed by German Ambassador to Indonesia H.E. Dr Georg Witschel to Secretary-General of ASEAN H.E. Le Luong Minh.

The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) has committed funding in the amount of 6 million EUR for a new programme to directly assist the CLMV countries in support of the Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI). A two-week appraisal mission was organized to Jakarta, Bangkok, and the CLMV countries in January to February 2013 in order to assess options and modalities for the German support. The mission team consisted of experts from the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt; and officers from the ASEAN Secretariat.

In consultations with officials from, among others, the Ministries of Commerce, Industry and Trade, Foreign Affairs, Labour, Education and Youth, as well as business associations and international development agencies; the team evaluated the capacities and commitment of relevant stakeholders to clarify the needs and priorities of the CLMV countries. A wide range of issues was covered, including topics related to quality infrastructure and standards; free flow of goods; services and investment; and free flow of skilled labour, migration, and TVET. The mission will elaborate specific proposals for assistance by Germany, as a contribution to the achievement of a vibrant, sustainable, and equitable ASEAN Community.

This development marks a significant phase in ASEAN-German relations where cooperation is moving from a sectoral approach into a more strategic dimension. This project orientation is also in line with the directive to implement more socio-cultural related projects under the IAI Work Plan II.