Press Release
August 9, 2010

As he joins 43rd ASEAN Foundation Day

As the ASEAN celebrates its 43rd foundation day Senator Edgardo J. Angara said that ASEAN needs a true single market.

"The economic stakes are high in ASEAN's venture toward community. Globally, ASEAN faces increasingly tough competition for trade and investment. In East Asia, it must reckon with the rise of China as an economic and political power," said Angara who formerly chaired the Senate Committee on Finance.

He added, "A 2003 study done for the ASEAN economic ministers by the American consultancy, McKinsey & Company, warned that. The region is falling behind its rivals. Turning it into a true single market will boost its competitiveness and help restore its economic luster."

Collectively ASEAN represents a market of 580 million, increasingly affluent people. In 2009, its combined GDP reached US$ 1.5 trillion. ASEAN's trade partnerships provide compelling proof of its global reach. In 2008, its top ten trade- partner countries or regions included Japan, the European Union, China, the United States, the Republic of Korea, Australia, India, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.

Apart from the objective of broadening economic integration of the ten member countries of ASEAN, a serious challenge facing ASEAN is how to narrow the development gap among its members to quicken the pace of integration amidst the stages of political, social and economic development in ASEAN that countries cannot cope with all the requirements of regional integration.

Moreover, narrowing the development gaps in ASEAN involve not only between ASEAN member countries, but also within Member countries. Support for the development of sub-regional growth areas will facilitate bridging development gaps.

Further, the Senator said that, "Whatever individual preferences we may have, there is one thing we can all agree on, if we are to excel, to become better, we need to compete with the best. I think it's time we revisit our governance models with a keener eye on more far-reaching reforms."

"ASEAN integration is not some certain, some inevitable future we can take for granted. There is as much rightness in the community we're trying to create but we'll have to work hard and long for this integration of our countries and people that we wish to see during our lifetime. Our goal is to make all of us realize that as a community in being we are more ready and we are prepared for unification."

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