Ong Ka Chuan: Asean economic community can tackle global uncertainties


  • Nation Premium
  • Monday, 28 Sep 2015

KUALA LUMPUR: The Asean Economic Community (AEC), that will become a reality by year end, could be a viable platform to tackle the global economic uncertainties.

International Trade and Industry Minister II Datuk Seri Ong Ka Chuan (pic) said through the AEC the 10 members of Asean could respond to the global challenges by continuing to deepen economic integration among members over the next decade.

"The AEC seeks to create a single market and production base within Asean. The larger vision is to ensure more equitable and inclusive growth, and foster robust productivity growth through innovation, technology and human resource development," Ong said this in his keynote address at the Maritime Silk Road China-Malaysia Forum here.

The event was attended by Chinese Ambassador to Malaysia Dr Huang Huikang, the chairman of China-Asean Business Association Malaysia Tan Sri Lim Gait Tong and chairman of China-Asean Business Council Xu Ningning.

Ong said that Asean had been intensively engaged in negotiating the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP) that builds on the Asean Plus 1 Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with China, Japan, Korea, India Australia and New Zealand.

On another note, Ong said the bilateral relations between Malaysia and China, which had been Malaysia's largest trading partner, were progressing well.

"Malaysia's total trade with China in 2013 amounted to US$63.50bil. This accounted for 14.3 per cent of Malaysia's total trade in 2014, an increase of 2.2. percent from 2014.

"In terms of investment, China is one of the top 10 foreign investors in Malaysia with interests in a total of 182 manufacturing projects worth US$2.83bil," he said.

As the global economic and political environment are becoming increasingly complex and challenging, Ong said the Asean governments and China had numerous initiatives in place to strengthen relations.

"These include the Maritime Silk Road, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, Asean Infrastructure Fund and actively facilitating market access through FTAs or Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs).

"I urge the private sector to be well aware of these initiatives and to maximise the opportunities they represent," he said.

Huang said the establishment of the China-Asean Business Council played a vital role in the founding of China-Asean Free Trade Area and the trade relations of China and Asean.

He also noted that the 21st century Maritime Silk Road would be needing the strength and wisdom of the government and the people of both Malaysia and China to succeed.

"I sincerely hope that our guests today and countless entrepreneurs of the two countries can join hand-in-hand and build a better future," he said. - Bernama

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