PHNOM PENH - Asean leaders Tuesday discussed the importance of expanding economic opportunity for the region, vowing to increase efforts for better trade and investment amid members states and with the US.
Surin Pitsuwan, secretary-general of Asean, said “more and more” was expected of Asean today. “So it is important that we can agree among ourselves that we can manage our differences peacefully, diplomatically, and try to restrain from any temptation to resort to any other means except diplomacy, except international law, except peaceful means.”
Prime Minister Hun Sen said regional cooperation and integration for trade and investment remain the “core” of Asean development. “By so doing, we hope it brings common prosperity for East Asia as a whole,” he said in remarks Tuesday.
There is much economic disparity amid Asean’s 10 members, and Cambodia is one of the region’s poorest.
Eang Sophalet, Hun Sen’s personal assistant, told reporters after meetings Tuesday that the disparity of trade this creates is a topic of future discussions.
“Poor countries cannot export their products, due to various barriers,” he said. “In contrast, there is a great inflow of products from developed countries into poor countries.”
At the end of the Asean Summit Tuesday, leaders said in a statement they are committed “to promote growth and foster financial stability in our economies,” and would seek to expand markets and look to coordinate more policies throughout the region.
“We reiterate our commitment to facilitating trade and investment and reducing barriers in all forms,” the statement said. Asean leaders will also “intensify” their efforts toward regional “liberalization and integration,” including in financial and capital markets.