BANGKOK: Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) members and three regional partners - China, South Korea and Japan - need to “deepen” their cooperation and improve the region’s ability to respond to any recession or financial crisis, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Monday (Nov 4).
Speaking at the 22nd ASEAN Plus Three Summit, Mr Lee said that trade between ASEAN and China, South Korea and Japan - which grew 7.4 per cent last year from an “already high base”- is “a pocket of resilience amidst anaemic growth”.
But with the general economic climate, more can be done, he said.
“Given the strong global headwinds, we should deepen our cooperation and improve our region’s ability to respond to any recession or financial crisis,” said Mr Lee.
This would include strengthening of support for initiatives such as the Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralisation and the ASEAN Plus Three (APT) Macroeconomic Research Office, he added.
Such support would ensure the region’s long-term economic resilience, Mr Lee explained.
Apart from economic cooperation, bolstering interdependencies and connectivity between ASEAN and these three nations can help achieve common goals, added PM Lee.
“I welcome the ASEAN Plus Three Leaders’ Statement on Connecting the Connectivities Initiative,” he said. “I encourage the Plus Three countries to work with ASEAN to fully implement the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025.”
Mr Lee also urged ASEAN and its Plus Three partners to continue promoting other types of connectivity, such as collaboration on the digital economy.
He noted that “concrete steps” have been taken by Japan through its hosting of the ASEAN-Japan High-Level Smart Cities Meeting; China which adopted a statement on smart city cooperation with ASEAN; and South Korea which will be hosting the ASEAN-ROK Ministerial Meeting on smart cities.
Said Mr Lee: “We encourage more such concrete partnerships, in order to realise tangible outcomes and thereby improve our peoples’ lives.”