Asean seen as economic growth force by 2015


WELCOME TO MANILA. ADB president Haruhiko Kuroda greets finance officials from 67 countries with the traditional Japanese bow on Friday. He is joined in welcoming the delegates to the 45th annual meeting of the ADB board of governors by President Aquino, Vice President Jejomar Binay, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, and BSP Governor Amando Tetangco. RAFFY LERMA

The Southeast Asian region, with an estimated population of 600 million, is anticipated to join the ranks of China and India as a major economic growth force in Asia should its constituent countries succeed in integrating their economies by 2015.

If the integration of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) is implemented as planned, trading of goods, inter-country investments and labor mobility within the region will become much easier, said Changyong Rhee, chief economist of the Asian Development Bank (ADB).

This will significantly reduce the cost of production for the businesses and economic growth of member-countries and of the entire region will accelerate, said the ADB’s top economist.

With this favorable scenario, Southeast Asia will become more attractive to investors and thus corner more direct investments from multinational companies from outside the region, he said.

“A new growth force is coming in Asia,” Rhee told a press conference on the sidelines of the 45th annual meeting of the ADB board of governors that is being hosted this year by the Philippines.

The 10 countries of Southeast Asia, which together make up the geopolitical and economic organization called Asean, are Singapore, Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Brunei, Burma (Myanmar) and the Philippines.

Integration by 2015

The Asean—established on Aug. 8, 1967, in Bangkok, by the five founding members composed of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand—aims at achieving full economic integration by 2015, creating a single market and production base that will allow the free flow of goods, services, investment, capital and labor throughout the region.

Under the Asean integration plan, tariffs on most goods coming from member-countries will be brought down to zero or near-zero, their financial systems will be integrated, and employment restrictions will be eased so that Southeast Asians would find it easy to find jobs in any country within the region.

Once Asean integration is completed, the region will be able to corner more foreign direct investments, which now mostly go to China and India, said Rhee.

China and India are currently leading growth in Asia and the world, with gross domestic products expanding between 8 and 10 percent over the past few years. Southeast Asian countries are also exhibiting decent growth rates, but at a slower pace.

With integration, growth rates of Southeast Asian countries would be expected to be faster, initially inching closer to and eventually matching those of China and India.

Territorial disputes

Some economists and social science experts, however, believe that Asean integration could be derailed if the ongoing conflicts among some Asean members with China over ownership of territories on the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) is not resolved soon.

Asean members Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and the Philippines are claiming ownership in whole or in part of the resource-rich Spratly archipelago, which is also claimed by China and Taiwan.

China and the Philippines are currently facing off at Panatag Island (Scarborough Shoal), which the Philippines says is not in the disputed Spratlys but is well within its 200-mile economic zone, but which China also claims for its own.

Yu Yongding, a professor from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and one of the Chinese delegates to the ADB event, said it would be difficult to implement Asean integration if the geopolitical conflict is left unresolved.

Economic Planning Secretary Cayetano Paderanga Jr. agreed with Yu, although he expressed optimism that Asian policymakers will be able to resolve the conflict soon.

3 characteristics of growth

While Asia remains a potential global growth driver, ADB president Haruhiko Kuroda said Asian countries have to expand their goal from merely sustaining healthy economic growth rates to having an economic growth that is “inclusive,” “green” and “knowledge-based.”

Growth must be inclusive, meaning it should benefit not only the middle class and the rich but also the poor, Kuroda said.

Kuroda noted that while many Asian countries have been experiencing decent growth rates, their expanding economies have so far failed to significantly bring down poverty levels.

In the case of the Philippines, for instance, the country has managed to continually grow despite the global economic crisis, but its poverty incidence remains high, at 26.5 percent as of end-2009.

“There are still hundreds of millions of Asians living on $1.25 a day,” Kuroda said in remarks at the opening session of the ADB governors’ meeting.

Some of the proposals raised to reduce poverty include heavier investments in public education and more lending to micro enterprises.

Green, knowledge-based

Kuroda said economic growth must be “green,” that is, the rise in incomes must not come at the expense of environmental degradation. Economic growth will not be sustainable if environmental conditions continue to deteriorate, he said.

Lastly, growth must be knowledge-based, meaning enterprises must invest in research and development and in technology to help accelerate the growth of production, Kuroda said.

He echoed statements made by other economists at the meeting that more extensive use of technology is necessary for emerging Asian economies like the Philippines to escape the middle-income trap and graduate to becoming an advanced economy.

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Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • Kyab Gon

    Kuroda said economic growth must be “green,” …
    Sana nga magGrow na ang Pinas, hindi lang sa GREEN JOKES! GRRR

  • MG

    Should not Pnoy be acknowledging the bow, as the others are, of Pres. Kuroda instead of gazing somewhere?  Wha…….

    • jurbinsky77

      The picture shows relative positions of the ADB president and the country’s president. Other than the 2 who are in front of the President Kuroda, nobody else has responded or acknowledged his customary bow. Please, don’t be too hard on your President. There are too many of posters like you who interpret everything as President’s Aquino’s misgiving or inadequacy. This President carries himself with dignity and intelligence. 

      • GKLer

        I have nothing against your bro-mance with the President.

  • Beguine

    This is the dream: economic integration of Southeast Asia in 2015.
    But most likely it cannot be done with that kind of too-soon and
    impossible deadline as most of these economies have by no means
    neither matured nor developed and in fact are still in the infancy stage.

    Besides, even just the Asean countries are so protective of their
    own economies, and unwilling to let go of their own restrictions and
    taboos in many areas of trade and commerce.

    The EC and its euro monetary integration serves as the model, but even
    the EC as we can study has been suffering with collapsed economies
    dragging down the rest of the more affluent countries severely causing
    economic meltdowns.

  • PCD_2012

    Hope our country can resolve our inability to defend our sovereignty against aggression.  

    Without building adequate defense perimeter we couldn’t sustain our growth.  

    We couldn’t achieve stability if we are just relying from US to protect us every time we have spats with our neighbors.

  • ethicsingov

    I just want to say I like the photo with everyone wearing a suit and the PHL delegation in barong. It’s a fashion standout, don’t you think?

  • hubblecoke

    pipe dream…everytime there is asean, adb, apec summit or what have you there has always been bold statements of development, growth but it’s all blowing bubbles in the wind…nada.

  • GKLer

    News Flash!!  The PH government is using the China issue to rally ASEAN together.  One thing we know we are good at is dirty politics. Chinese fishermen have been going there for over a decade, it’s only now we hear it in the news because of some political agenda.

    • CyberPinoy

      Yeah and PH fishermen has been there since PH was populated thousands of years ago.  

      You did not flash the news that chinese were caught poaching endagered species which is illegal.

      • GKLer

        when an elephant goes by, all an ant can do is watch, maybe make some noise.

    • tagahuron

      I think the one doing propaganda is you.

      • GKLer

        you make it sound so evil, it’s just a word.

    • jurbinsky77

      So it is not a problem for you,that hose Chinese are stealing the resources of your country. If that happened during Gloria’s time., does it mean it was OK and therefore let it continue?

      • GKLer

        What makes you think I can stop it?  The navy can’t stop it, they’re the ones with all the guns.  Can you stop it?

      • jurbinsky77

        You started with a “News Flash!” and the implicit approval for the chinese to poach inside the country’s territory because the whole thing according to you is a political agenda. Can you explain how it become a political agenda when these amoral people are stealing your resources. If many Filipinos have your defeatist attitude, then surely the country is going to the dogs, starting with its patrimony.

        My question to you was, “…..does it mean it was OK and therefore lt it continue? Apparently my question was extraneous because you have adequately exposed who you are.

        Your bully neighbor is just staring at you and you are talking of death already. And you have effectively shown that you take the side of the Chinese against your country and your President. Pathetic.

        One last question. Are you a homosexual?

      • GKLer

        I have a question, can you read?
        Where did I say “approval”?
        Where did I say “I side with Chinese”?
        You like to make up things in your mind don’t you?

        What I said in case you didn’t comprehend:  This has been going on for more than a decade. It’s only now you hear about it a lot, why do YOU suppose that’s the case? I SAID, it’s political agenda by the PH government to rally ASEAN together. 

        Man, you need to learn how to read and to argue with some logic. LOL.

    • Dana

      You are not a patriotic Filipino!

      • GKLer

        patriotic?  what does that mean?  go to my death to defend clams, corals, fish?  I am just as patriotic as you are no more no less.

      • Paulino Belga

        Intsik ka di ka Pinoy. Uwi china.

      • GKLer

        All pinoys have about x% Chinese blood by ancestry.  So what now, all of us go home to China?  LOL

  • fairtruth


  • murtson

    Guess what country will remain a basket case because of unabated graft and corruption in the government not to mention the discrimination practiced by Malacanang against Mindanao.

    • pablosantino

      bat napaka pessimist mo? ano ba yan.. :(

  • RobertoMagtuytoy


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