ASEAN foreign ministers yesterday hailed the region’s economic recovery as it enters into the post-pandemic era.
In the joint-communique for the 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Phnom Penh, the ministers were pleased to note the significant recovery in the region’s economy.
Minister of Foreign Affairs II Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Erywan bin Pehin Datu Pekerma Jaya Haji Mohd Yusof attended the meeting. The ministers said the region’s economy expanded by three per cent in 2021, compared to a 3.2 per cent contraction in 2020. ASEAN’s economic growth could further accelerate to 5.0 per cent this year.
“We noted that ASEAN’s total merchandise trade reached USD3.3 trillion in 2021, of which 21.3 per cent was within the region, while the services trade reached USD743 billion with intra-ASEAN comprising 11.7 per cent,” said the ministers.
“Meanwhile, inflows of foreign direct investments to ASEAN reached USD 174.1 billion in 2021, 12.0 per cent of which was among ASEAN member states.
“We were optimistic that our macroeconomic fundamentals remain robust and committed to continue working together to ensure the region’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic as well as strengthening our region’s collective resilience and competitiveness in the long run,” said the ministers.
The ministers also underscored the increasingly pivotal role of digital transformation and the adoption of the Bandar Seri Begawan Roadmap (BSBR) and the ASEAN Digital Masterplan 2025 in achieving an inclusive, resilient and sustainable economic growth in the region.
The ministers said the BSBR affirmed ASEAN’s commitment to commence the negotiations for the ASEAN Digital Economy Framework Agreement by 2025 which will provide strategic guidance for ASEAN to be a leading digital community.
The ministers also welcomed the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) which entered into force on January 1, adding that the RCEP would make significant contributions to the recovery strategy, and supports an inclusive and open trade and investment architecture.