E Asia works towards a common market

Ulhas Joglekar ulhasj at bom4.vsnl.net.in
Fri Nov 26 16:47:12 PST 1999

Friday, November 26, 1999

E Asia works towards a common market Raju Gopalakrishnan

Manila, Nov 25: East Asia is working on plansfor a common market and later a regional currency to form what could become the most powerful economic grouping in the world, regional officials said on Thursday. The first steps will be taken at the weekend summit inManila of the 10-member Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), where regional leaders will be joined by the heads of government of China, Japan and South Korea, they said. ASEAN is already on track for a free trade area by 2002 andthis could be expanded to the three northern neighbours, Philippine Foreign Secretary Domingo Siazon said. "I think you will see this number expanding not only toChina, South Korea and Japan but perhaps in the near future to North Korea. Maybe Mongolia might wish to join," Siazon told Reuters Television. "I see we will be having first an ASEAN common market,(then) an East Asia free trade area, an East Asia common market, an East Asia currency, it is just inevitable." Siazon however did not give atime-frame for the plans. "InASEAN, we keep repeating the process until everyone gets used to it," he said. "We do not institutionalise it from the beginning." The finance ministers of ASEAN, which includes Brunei,Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, were meeting on Thursday to thrash out the Financial implications of a plan for more East Asia cooperation. The leaders are likely to announce the programme afterSunday's summit, officials have said. For ASEAN, desperate to regain the high growth rates whichwere blighted by the 1997/98 Financial crisis, regional cooperation has become essential, officials said. "We have learned from the crisis that we need to sticktogether, work out our economic plans together, coordinate with each other in terms of our Financial policies," Siazon said. Japan is the lynchpin of this plan, he added. "Japan since 1997 has committed $82 billion to East Asia,"Siazon said. "This is mind-boggling, especially if youlook at it in terms of what the IMF has provided or the World Bank. "It in effect is the major partner as far as East Asia is concerned." Officials in Tokyo have said Japan would announce a freshprogramme at the summit to help Southeast Asian nations get more technological training, a key thrust in an effort to build regional competitiveness in information technology industries. That is the other main aim of the summit - to prepare aregional initiative to promote such industries, which are seen as the way forward to boosting growth. On Sunday, the Asean leaders - only nine of them sinceMalaysia's Mahathir Mohamad will not attend due to general elections in his country - will meet executives from global software and telecommunications companies to further this aim. REUTER Copyright © 1999 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd. -The Indian Express Group of Newspapers. Managed by The Indian Express Online Media Limited and hosted by CerfNet. feedback at financialexpress.com

More information about the lbo-talk mailing list