To counter the downbeat tone of yesterday’s post, here are some ASEAN figures from this week’s Economic Ministers meeting to remind everyone of the region’s high hopes. Real GDP across ASEAN is set to grow 5% this year, up from last year’s 1.5%. In 2009 it maintained a trade surplus with the rest of the world of US$61.2 billion, double that of 2008. The total value of the merchandise trade is $1.54 trillion and trade has remained strong with partners China, the EU and Japan despite the global economic downturn.

ASEAN receives 3.6% of the world’s foreign direct investment (FDI), up from 2.8% in 2008 and set to grow again this year. Most of this comes from the EU, Japan and the USA, while intra-ASEAN investment accounts for 11.2%.

At their meeting, Economic Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to implementing 2008′s AEC Blueprint and are still confident that economic and production integration can become a reality by 2015. Efforts to attract more foreign investments will be strengthened by joint promotions and the private sector will take a more prominent role in determining ways to improve the investment climate, including more participation by the region’s SMEs.

They reiterated that economic gaps between members remains a fundamental concern, and said there was a role for ASEAN’s regional dialog partners in helping to overcome the problem.

source & article: Bernama via The Edge Malaysia