NAY PYI TAW, MYANMAR – Asian Development Bank (ADB) President Takehiko Nakao participated in the 18th ASEAN Finance Ministers’ Meeting in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar on 5 April. Mr. Nakao presented the economic outlook and policy challenges for ASEAN in its continued push toward the ASEAN Economic Community in his speech to the ministers.
After a strong economic performance last year, ASEAN’s economic growth is forecast to remain steady at 5.0% for 2014, accelerating to 5.4% in 2015, according to ADB’s latest Asian Development Outlook, its annual flagship economic publication. The macroeconomic fundamentals of the ASEAN countries are much stronger than in 1997.
“It is also clear that ASEAN members are working hard to address structural weaknesses especially in those countries with current account and fiscal deficits. Strong commitment to pursuing these policies helps build market confidence and thus reduces risk,” Mr. Nakao commented.
The ASEAN Finance Minsters’ Meeting is especially important as ASEAN is approaching the 2015 milestone of an ASEAN Economic Community, or AEC. The AEC’s single market and production base requires an open trade and investment regime. ASEAN infrastructure connectivity remains a major challenge in creating a single market and production base. Deepening and broadening financial markets is critical to catch up with integration in the real sector. ASEAN needs to strengthen its regional financial safety net, as ASEAN economies become more integrated into the global economy and more susceptible to global shocks. In addition, there is also the need to tackle global commons and regional public goods more collectively.
Mr. Nakao emphasized that the ASEAN Economic Community can play an important role in cementing and deepening cooperation between countries, and ADB is committed to supporting this process as a long-term, trusted partner.