Selangor Journal
A worker adjusts an Asean flag at a meeting hall in Kuala Lumpur, on October 28, 2021. — Picture by REUTERS

Asean confident of navigating headwinds — Asean chair

DAVOS, Jan 18 — Asean is confident that it can navigate headwinds steaming from various geopolitical tensions and maintain stability as well as economic growth in the region, Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut B. Pandjaitan said.

Indonesia is the chair of Asean in 2023. The theme is Asean Matters: Epicentrum of Growth, resonating with the success of the presidency of Indonesia for G20 in 2022.

“Hence, Indonesia is quite confident that if it can play a role like this, Asean becoming the centre of growth in the region. Evidently, with Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia, we are doing pretty well this time.

“Although the situation in Ukraine remains uncertain. We do not know what is going to happen. We do not know what is going to happen even this year. So, there could be an impact. China and Taipei — there are also uncertainties over there.

“However, Asean can navigate it to maintain the stability in the region as well as the economy,” he said at a session entitled The Pulling Power of Asean at the World Economic Forum (WEF) here today.

The session was moderated by The Financial Times associate editor and chief foreign affairs commentator Gideon Rachman.

“For instance, Indonesia with its 282 million population, Jakarta was able to navigate the situation and exports were at US$293 billion (RM1.26 trillion). Indonesia’s economy is seen expanding at 5.25 per cent in 2022.

“I think when you look at 2021, it was at US$233 billion (over RM1 trillion). Hence, the confidence in Indonesia and the region is pretty good.“

“Indonesia hosting the G20 meeting successfully is evidence it can manage, despite the pessimism that was thrown in.

“So, stability in Asean is going to be good,” Luhut reiterated.

Asked on Myanmar, he said Asean in general and Indonesia as its chair for 2023 would continue to engage with Myanmar.

“Indonesia has had its own experience of military rule and based on that we can continue to advise and engage Myanmar, while maintaining Asean’s non-interference policy on domestic issues.

“Maybe they can learn something from us but we are not going to push them to do that because each country has its own democracy. Let them exercise their own democracy,” Luhut stressed.

Indonesia in its capacity as Asean chair will continue to engage Myanmar, he said.

Meanwhile, vice-chairman of SM Investments Corporation Teresita Sy-Coson said the Philippines is confident that it can continue to be flexible and neutral between China, which it depends on economically, and the United States politically as tension continues to build up.

“Asean is matured to a certain level that we depend on each other for strength and more or less we have been able to do that.

“Over the last few years, we have been looking into how to take advantage of the interdependency for economic growth, stability in the area, and I think we have made some success.

“For the Philippines, Asean is strength. When the region grows we grow,” she said.

— Bernama

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