ASEAN summit begins in Myanmar

ASEAN summit begins in Myanmar

The establishment of an economic community by the end of 2015 along with plans for its future development will be a key topic of discussion among top leaders at the ASEAN summit that began here today.

Leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries, along with other world leaders, including US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, gathered in Myanmar's capital to discuss the establishment of an economic community within the regional bloc.

"As ASEAN economic community is a driving force for the ASEAN community, realisation of targets sets in four pillars of ASEAN Economic Community is important in creating better opportunities for our peoples to enjoy the benefits of ASEAN Community," Myanmar President U Thein Sein said in his opening remarks.

According to the ASEAN Secretariat, 80 per cent of required measures for the community have been implemented before the 10 member states strive to build a single ASEAN market and production base, a competitive economic region, an equitable economic development and an integration into the global economy next year.

The envisaged ASEAN community will cover some 600 million people with a combined GDP of USD 2 trillion.

The summit is expected to adopt a declaration for the ASEAN community's future vision, which will serve as the basis for a comprehensive road map for the regional bloc beyond 2015.

President Thein Sein listed five tasks which he said the ASEAN nations should focus on when they enter a new level of regional integration after 2015.

These include efforts in promoting compliance to established ASEAN rules and norms, a strategy to promote ASEAN's central role in existing regional mechanisms and architecture, sustaining ASEAN 's economic dynamism, enhancing its resilience and competitiveness as well as improving institutional efficiency, effective decision-making and follow-up capacity.

It is the first time that Myanmar takes the rotating ASEAN chairmanship since it joined the bloc in 1997.

"Myanmar's chairmanship has set the stage for the ASEAN community's post-2015 vision as well as the work on reviewing and strengthening ASEAN institutions," said ASEAN Secretary-General Le Luong Minh.

The two-day summit also includes meetings among leaders from China, South Korea, Japan, India, New Zealand, Australia, the US and Russia.

ASEAN, established in 1967, groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

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