Asean nations are upbeat on the opportunities the Asean Economic Community (AEC) has to offer, citing the integration helps increase the region's resilience to global jittery.
"Regional economic integration will continue to contribute to economic resilience and growth performance. Looking to 2015 and beyond, the macroeconomic landscape of Asean will continue to transform to weather challenging global economic conditions," the association said through the Asean Integration 2015 Report.
Released today, the report noted that continued efforts to implement economic integration initiatives embodied in the AEC will have a significant, positive influence on trade and foreign direct investment, promoting overall economic growth in the region as well as stimulating structural transformation across Asean economies.
It noted that the region remains relatively robust and better than the global average. Against the global growth forecast of 3.3 per cent in 2015, Asean's economic performance remained resilient in 2014 at 4.6 per cent and the region is projected to sustain its growth momentum in 2015 before accelerating to 4.9 per cent in 2016. The relatively slower regional output growth in 2014 largely reflected lower growth by most of the larger economies in Asean (Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand) while Malaysia, Myanmar and Vietnam recorded higher growth rates in 2014 compared to 2013.
Since the adoption of the AEC Blueprint in 2007, the services sector has played a bigger role. The share of the services sector in the economy steadily increased to reach 50.2 per cent in 2014 while both the industry and the agriculture sector’s share declined and stood at 38.0 per cent and 11.0 per cent respectively. Growth in the region has been driven by an increasing share of foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows to the services sector, as well as a solid performance in the trade sector, contributing to the region’s output expansion.
The report also confirmed that all 10 nations are committed to move forward with the integration. It concluded that Asean countries have cut most of the intra-regional import duties.
Asean-6 nations (Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Singapore) have cut 99.2 per cent of their tariff lines at the end of 2014.
The rate for the other four countries - Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam - is 72.6 per cent and is expected to increase to 90.8 per cent this year.