By Dian Septiari
The Jakarta Post/Asia News Network
The 2019 ASEAN Integration Report showed that, despite growing uncertainty in the global economy, the bloc's overall economic performance remained promising, with the region’s trade totaling $2.8 trillion in 2018, an increase of 23.9 percent from the 2015 figure of $2.3 trillion.
The region attracted $154.7 billion worth of foreign direct investment (FDI) last year -- the highest in history and a 30.4 percent increase from FDI inflows of $118.7 billion in 2015.
ASEAN economic integration continued to contribute to the region’s emerging position as a global growth driver, with intra-ASEAN activity accounting for the largest share of ASEAN’s total trade and FDI in 2018 at 23 percent and 15.9 percent, respectively, the report said.
The increasingly integrated ASEAN economy follows the introduction of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015.
The AEC is essentially the economic integration of the 10 ASEAN members, guided by the 2025 AEC blueprint, which provides extensive directions through strategic measures between 2016 and 2025. It recognizes the free movement of skilled labor, goods, services and investment between member countries as key factors.
“It's important for stakeholders to know where are we after four years of implementation of the blueprint,” Julia Tijaja, director for ASEAN integration monitoring at the ASEAN Secretariat, said on Tuesday.
"We note that there have been significant changes in the global political economic landscape that ASEAN is in, and this is a very different situation from when we first launched the 2025 blueprint. It is important for us to take a step back, reflect on what has been achieved so far and see what else […] we need to do while still working toward the 2025 goals.”