ASEAN Economic Ministers Meet Today; GMA Speaks at Opening Rites Today in Makati Economic Ministers Meet to Discuss Investment Pact

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Byline: BERNIE CAHILES MAGKILAT

Economic ministers of the 10 countries of ASEAN will meet today to approve the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) blueprint and revise the investment agreement to fast-track the region's economic integration by 2015.

President Arroyo will be the guest speaker at the opening ceremony set today at the Shangri-la Hotel in Makati City.

"Time is of the essence," said Trade and Industry Secretary Peter B. Favila, also the chairman of the 39th ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting here.

Favila said that the agreement by the ASEAN Investments Area Council to revise the framework of investments and promote and protect it was in support of the region's vision under the AEC for a full economic integration by 2015.

By then, ASEAN would have become into one seamless economy by opening up to each other in a synchronized way.

The results of the Manila meeting would be presented to the ASEAN heads of states during their Leaders' Summit in Singapore in November this year.

A companion document to the AEC that contains the schedules by which the full economic integration in ASEAN can attained by 2015 will also be signed by the economic ministers during the meeting.

Under the proposed AEC, the 10member countries of ASEAN shall have achieved a seamless market and production base by 2015. The region with over 500 million strong consumerbase shall have attained a free market zone with goods, factors of production, talent, human resources, and capital can move across borders freely.

"That is why President Gloria Arroyo pushed for the signing of A Magna Carta for Migrant Workers in the last Leaders' Summit in Cebu ," said Ramon Vicente Kabigting, director of the Philippines Bureau of International Trade Relations.

"It will also be a zone of competitiveness where the products and services that we offer and our investment areas will be second to none and will hold contest all over the world in terms of price, opportunities and quality and able to attract people because we are just as good as any of the world's," Kabigting added.

By 2015, ASEAN shall have become a zone that is wired to global economies, following the implementation of the free trade agreements it had forged with other regional economic blocs.

More importantly, ASEAN shall be known as a zone of equitable economic development with its people enjoying a progressive, sharing, and caring community, said Kabigting.

Another highlight at the 39th AEM is the signing of the roadmap of the logistics sector is the 12th sector in the Priority Integration Sectors (PIS) of the ASEAN.

"We want to integrate the ASEAN community and the PIS would hasten that," Kabigting said.

The PIS was implemented to jumpstart the economic integration of ASEAN. …