Press Release
May 18, 2013


Senator Edgardo J. Angara urged for closer ties between Southeast Asian countries, like the Philippines, and South Asian countries like India and Pakistan during his keynote speech at the 5th Regional Conference of the South and Southeast Asian Association for the Study of Culture and Religion (SSEASR).

Speaking at the University of Santo Tomas, Angara underscored to an audience of international academics, educators and intellectuals that Southeast Asia and South Asia are two of the most economically dynamic sub-regions in the world.

"These areas posted two of the fastest rates of economic expansion over the past decade," said the veteran lawmaker, citing that annual economic growth for South and Southeast Asian averaged at 7.6 percent and 5.5 percent respectively, according to data from the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

He projected that the rise of the two sub-regions will continue, as both will enter their individual "demographic windows" over the next 30 years, where population dependency ratios will be at their lowest and the income potential that can be reaped are enormous.

The Vice-Chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs said, "Greater connectivity will unlock enormous economic benefits for both sub-regions, by improving economies of scales and promoting economic competition, which will help raise the purchasing power of regular consumers as well as the funds necessary for development projects."

He echoed the call of ADB for "better infrastructure related to transport and energy to facilitate cross-border trade, as well as institutions and mechanisms that will address concerns related to financing, investments and policies."

"But these are economic imperatives. They won't work if the cultural and religious contexts are not helpful. If we need more connectivity, that means we will need more people-to-people linkages. That means more dialogues, more exchange of ideas, more cultural collaboration," said the former UP President.

Angara concluded by lauding the SSEASR for acting as a venue for academic collaboration between South Asia and Southeast Asia, given that Asia is becoming the global center for innovation and research.

He also congratulated University of Santo Tomas (UST) for hosting the international confab which is affiliated with the International Association of the History of Religions (IAHR) under the auspices of the United Nations under the auspices United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

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