ASEAN should integrate better to survive: Singapore PM

20 Aug 2008


Mumbai: ASEAN should go for greater integration if it is to attract foreign investments, Singapore prime minister Lee Hsien Loong said.

"Compared to other regions, ASEAN countries are only tiny blips (compared to much larger economies of China and India) on the radar screens of investors....We have to struggle to attract their attention and get our share of investments, jobs and growth," he said while opening the 29th ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA).
''China's economic strength is well-known. Now through hosting the Olympics, it has shown the world the talents, energy and organisational prowess of its people, Lee said.

''India's economy too has considerable dynamism, and is moving up in terms of skills and technology,'' he added.

ASEAN will become a single market and production base by 2015 if the organisation adheres to the timetable, Lee said. ''To stay in the game, ASEAN must become a strong and integrated region," he said.

''Collectively, we will form a bigger blip on the radar screens, and become a more attractive and worthwhile economic partner, whether for multinational corporations or other countries,'' Lee said.

He called on all member states to ratify the ASEAN Charter which will turn the group into a rule-based legal entity. Seven members have so far ratified the charter.

ASEAN members, he said, should adhere to the roadmap and timetable towards establishing an ASEAN Economic Community by 2015, turning it into a single market and production base.

Future stability cannot be taken for granted, Lee said, citing the the sub-prime mortgage crisis and the failure of the latest round of the Doha trade negotiations in Geneva.

He urged the parliamentarians ''to stand firm against xenophobic attitudes, and to support policies which keep our economies open and integrated''.

ASEAN comprises Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Brunei, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar.

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