SINGAPORE, Economic integration is one of the two specific areas where Asean can do more together, says Asean Chairman, Singapore.
The rules-based multilateral trading system, which has underpinned Asean's growth and prosperity, is under pressure, said Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the opening ceremony of the Asean Foreign Ministers' Meeting at Singapore Expo here Wednesday.
Malaysia is represented by Foreign Affairs Minister Saifuddin Abdulllah at the meeting.
It is important that Asean continues to support the multilateral system and work with like-minded partners to deepen our web of cooperation, he added.
The Chairman lauded Asean's redoubling efforts to conclude the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) by end of the year and working with the EU on the Asean-EU Comprehensive Air Transport Agreement (CATA).
When established, the RCEP and Asean-EU CATA will send a clear signal of Asean's commitment to trade liberalisation and economic integration, said Lee.
RCEP comprises Asean and six Free Trade Agreement (FTA) partners - Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand - while Asean-EU CATA is the first substantive aviation agreement between two major regional groupings.
Lee noted that economic integration is one of the three pillars of the Asean Community whereby it is one of the more successful economic groupings in the world.
Besides economic integration, Lee highlighted that Asean should make full use of technology to bring it closer together.
The fourth industrial revolution is upon us. Asean has to embrace innovation, build up our digital connectivity, and make ourselves ready for the future, said Lee.
Lee noted that to boost regional economic integration and adoption of technology, Singapore will enhance its support for the Initiative for Asean Integration (IAI).
He announced that Singapore will upgrade its centres in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos to become Singapore Cooperation Centres.
The new centres will expand our range of technical assistance and offer new modalities for capacity building that go beyond classroom training.
"Singapore hopes to share our experiences, as well as learn from our neighbours and partners," he said.--NNN-BERNAMA
Source: NAM News Network