ASEAN finance chiefs to exchange views on expanding market, investments in region

LAPU-LAPU CITY-- Finance ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are set to exchange views on further harnessing investment opportunities within the 10-member regional bloc amid the current slowdown in global growth when they meet in this Central Visayan city on Thursday for the 12th session of the ASEAN Finance Ministers Investors Seminar (AFMIS).

They will also discuss at the April 6 meeting here the progress of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), which is designed to create a single market and production base within Southeast Asian region through the free flow of goods, skilled labor, services and investments among its 10 member-economies.

The ministers will likewise tackle issues on regional connectivity as well as current events and other issues relevant to ASEAN members, including topics ranging from infrastructure investment and e-commerce to trade facilitation and the region's rising consumer market.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III of the Philippines, this year's ASEAN host, and ASEAN Deputy Secretary General Lim Hong Hin will open the meeting, which will take place at the Shangri-La Mactan Hotel, by delivering their respective welcome remarks.

Finance Ministers Pehin Dato Abdul Rahman Ibrahim of Brunei Darussalam; Sri Mulyani Indrawati of Indonesia; Johari Abdul Ghani of Malaysia; Apisak Tantivorawong of Thailand; and Secretary of State Sokha Nguon of Cambodia are expected to attend the AFMIS and the series of high-level meetings at the Shangri-la Mactan Hotel.

A plenary session of the ASEAN finance ministers will be held in the morning, followed by a networking lunch with global financial institutions and multilateral companies that have a strong presence in the region.

Founded 50 years ago, ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam into one regional bloc.

This regional group established the AEC, which officially commenced on Dec. 31, 2015, comprising a market of 600 million people or about eight percent of the world's population.

ASEAN is the seventh largest economy in the world with a combined GDP of US$ 2.5 trillion as of 2015. It also has the third largest labor pool and is the world's fourth largest exporting region.

This year marks a milestone for the ASEAN, which will celebrate its 50th anniversary with the Philippines as host. The 2017 ASEAN theme is Partnering for Change, Engaging the World.

The ASEAN finance ministers and central bank governors are set to discuss ways to flesh out ASEAN's commitments to financial integration and cooperation against the backdrop of a new wave of protectionism and other uncertainties in the global economy when they meet on April 6-7 in Cebu.

To be hosted by Dominguez and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Amando Tetangco Jr., the conferences will include separate meetings of the ASEAN finance ministers and the central bank governors and the third Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Joint Meeting.

Agreements on the ASEAN Banking Integration Framework are expected to be signed on the sidelines of the ASEAN Finance Ministers' and Central Bank Governors' meetings.

A joint press conference by the finance ministers of the immediate past (Lao Republic), present (Philippines) and future (Singapore) ASEAN chairs will be held after the Joint Meeting.

The official gatherings of the ASEAN finance ministers and central bank governors will be preceded by a series of meetings and forums among the ASEAN finance deputies and central bank deputies on April 4-5.

An ASEAN + 3 Finance and Central Deputies Meeting with China, Japan and Korea and a separate ASEAN-US Treasury Deputies Meeting will be held on April 5.

Before the ASEAN finance and central bank chiefs buckle down to work, Tetangco will host a dinner reception on April 5, to be followed by a gala dinner hosted by Dominguez on April 6.

Source: Philippines News Agency