TOKYO—Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III has cited here the key role played by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in driving the growth of the global economy and facilitating cooperation within the 10-member regional bloc.
Dominguez said ASEAN’s future “will be shaped by more intense regionalism,” with the Philippines benefiting from this move as regional cooperation had “helped nurse the modernization of our economy.”
“Fifty years ago, a group of visionaries dared to imagine a regional association for Southeast Asia. That was almost a leap of faith. No region on earth could be as diverse as our region was at that time,” said Dominguez in offering a toast at a lunch reception here this week celebrating the Philippines’ chairmanship of ASEAN.
“We were the crossroads of the world’s great religions and former colonies of different masters. Given our levels of development at that time, a regional economy seemed unthinkable,” he said.
This year marks a milestone for theASEAN, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary with the theme “Partnering for Change, Engaging the World.”
The regional bloc was established on August 8, 1967 in Bangkok with five founding members—the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. It has since expanded to include Brunei Darussalam, Vietnam, the Lao Republic, Myanmar and Cambodia.
It established the ASEAN Economic Community, which officially commenced on Dec. 31, 2015, to create a single market and production base within the region through the free flow of goods, skilled labor, services and investments among its 10 member-states.
“Today is a very different time. Intra-regional trade has picked up within the framework of the ASEAN Free Trade Area. The region has become an important driver of global growth,” he said.
Dominguez said that, “Regional cooperation helped nurse the modernization of our economy. Regional partnerships helped cement a sense of common identity and common purpose. The future will be shaped by more intense regionalism.”
He said the numerous meetings to be held this year in the Philippines as ASEAN marks a half-century of existence is intended to “consolidate regional cooperation” and expected to lead to “fruitful and beneficial” results for ASEAN and its partners.
Among these meetings are the annual conferences of the ASEAN finance ministers and central bank governors to be hosted by Dominguez and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. in Cebu on April 6-7.
The luncheon reception was also attended by ranking officials from the Philippines and the other ASEAN member-states, Japanese officials and representatives from the embassies of Russia, the European Union, Pakistan in Tokyo.