Myanmar’s leadership as ASEAN chair in 2014 will be critical to the success of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) by 2015. This key message emerged from the U.S.-supported workshop last week, which brought together around 70 participants from the Government and the private sector to discuss the Chairmanship of the ASEAN Economic Ministers next year. The discussion explored the benefits of the AEC and reviewed the progress of the implementation of the AEC by both ASEAN and Myanmar.
“The ASEAN Economic Community presents the best opportunity for the ASEAN Member States to compete intensively for markets outside the region while presenting a more favorable environment to encourage domestic and foreign investment at home,” said U.S. Ambassador to Myanmar Derek J. Mitchell at the opening of the event. “The AEC will enable ASEAN firms to gain economies of scale that would be impossible in a single country in the region.”
U.S. Ambassador to ASEAN David L. Carden added that, “I have every confidence Myanmar will be a leading contributor to ASEAN integration, including economic integration. We are pleased to see the Government and private sector are focused on the road ahead and that other ASEAN Member States are showing strong support.”
As the Government prepares to assume the ASEAN chair for the first time, ASEAN Member States will collectively be monitoring the necessary obligations to implement the Blueprint for the ASEAN Economic Community.
“This is the right time for us to have this very important discussion on how to involve Myanmar in the AEC and the global community”, said Dr. Khin San Yee, Deputy Minister, Ministry for National Planning and Economic Development. “Our discussions over the next two days give us a great opportunity to take stock, identify priorities and plan ahead for our role as chair to lead ASEAN in achieving its 2015 target.”
The workshop presented the AEC scorecard that captures not only the AEC implementation by ASEAN as a region to date, but also a more detailed scorecard on the performance of Myanmar. The scorecard highlighted areas where Myanmar will need to accelerate AEC preparation and areas where technical assistance from Dialogue Partners could be provided.
“There is much to be done if ASEAN is to achieve the 2015 AEC target,” said Ms. Anna Robeniol of the ASEAN Secretariat. “Under the AEC we are moving towards the creation of a collective wealth that will benefit all of us. But there is no free lunch. There is a need for each and every Member State to be responsible and committed.”
In addition to the AEC scorecard, the workshop featured an exchange of views between the government and the private sector on the status of preparations for the AEC. Private sector participants were made up of representatives from the Union of Myanmar Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry, which represents over 18,000 businesses and associations.
U.S.-supported study suggest that the successful implementation of the AEC will result in an increase in ASEAN real incomes by 5.3%, as well as growth in exports of up to 43% in many manufacturing sectors. Myanmar stands to be one of the greatest beneficiaries of the AEC, with an estimated 4.4% increase in national income and a 66% increase in exports.
The workshop was organised by the U.S. Government-funded ASEAN-U.S. Technical Assistance and Training Facility.