JAKARTA, Dec 21 — Asean member countries need to effectively implement the initiatives set in the Asean Economic Community (AEC) Blueprint 2025 to stay ahead and relevant in the changing global economy, its secretary-general said.
“The midterm review of the blueprint, which was completed last year, highlighted critical implementation gaps that Asean needs to address,” said Datuk Lim Jock Hoi in the December issue of the Asean Secretariat’s Economic Integration Brief.
He added AEC’s agenda on digital transformation and sustainability should be addressed through a coordinated, holistic, and whole-of-community policy response from relevant sectors.
Lim highlighted that close collaboration across Asean’s three pillars — namely political-security, economic and sociocultural — must be enhanced.
He laid emphasis on the need for the region to give greater focus to ensure regional resilience for a more sustainable and future-proof community.
“There is no better time than now for us to start looking at a new approach to economic integration,” Lim said.
The secretary-general, who is coming to the end of his five-year term this year, pointed out that Asean’s integration efforts have achieved significant economic and development progress over the past few years.
However, he reminded that the Comprehensive Recovery Framework implementation must continue to strengthen regional emergency preparedness, response and resilience.
Asean’s economy saw a swift recovery from the impact of Covid-19 with a prospect of 5.1 per cent growth this year, from -3.2 per cent in 2020 and 3.4 per cent last year.
The nominal gross domestic product in 2021, which stood at US$3.4 trillion (RM15.06 trillion) surpassed the pre-pandemic level of US$3.2 trillion (RM14.1 trillion) in 2019, Lim said.