H.E. Brendan Howlin, Minister of Public Expenditure and Reform of the Republic of Ireland, visited the ASEAN Secretariat yesterday to be updated on the latest development and prospects of achieving the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) by 2015. The Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN for the AEC, H.E. Lim Hong Hin, received the Minister and his delegation.

Minister Howlin provided the background on Ireland holding the Presidency of the Council of the European Union from January to June 2013 as part of the Trio programme of six monthly Presidency with Lithuania and Greece. The key priorities for Ireland include, amongst others, recovery and stability of the Euro Zone, economic growth, and job creation.

DSG Lim briefed the Minister on the latest development in ASEAN’s efforts in establishing AEC by 2015. He highlighted that while there has been progress over the years, there are still challenges ahead that ASEAN needs to address. Amongst others, incorporating regional commitments into national strategic plan, developing legal framework to facilitate the implementation of agreed measures, strengthening institutional capacity to enforce regulations, and expediting the integration of new ASEAN members with the more developed ASEAN-6 (Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand).

This is the first ever visit of an Irish Government Minister to the ASEAN Secretariat.