KOTA KINABALU: The eight priorities for ASEAN put forward by Malaysia have received very positive response from Asean Foreign Ministers.
Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman said this was following the relevance of the priorities to ASEAN needs, which among others, included the aim to strengthen the development of the small and medium entreprise (SMEs) in the region.
“This is something that we have, the areas that need to be done more. All those eight priorities that we have put forward are very relevant to ASEAN needs and towards achieving the ASEAN Community,” he said.
Anifah was speaking to reporters after chairing the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Retreat at the Magellan Sutera Harbour Resort here, today.
Other than strengthening the development of SMEs, other priorities put forward by Malaysia are to formally establish the ASEAN Community, to develop the ASEAN Community’s Vision and its Attendant Documents, to steer ASEAN closer to the peoples; and to expand intra-ASEAN trade and investment through cross-border investments and trade.
Besides that, to strengthen ASEAN’s Institutions, to promote regional peace and security through moderation and to enhance ASEAN’s role as a global player.
He explained that the senior officials had been tasked to pursue further on the implementation of the priorities.
Anifah said that he had shared the priorities of Malaysia’s chairmanship with other foreign ministers during the meeting that lasted more than three hours this morning.
In the context of formal establishment of ASEAN Community, he said they would direct efforts towards completing the remaining action lines of the three ASEAN Community Blueprints, namely the ASEAN Political-Security Community, ASEAN Economic Community and ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community.
In steering ASEAN closer to the people, Malaysia intended to create more opportunites for greater engagement of the peoples through the convening of several events throughout the year, including the First Lady Summit, ASEAN Young Leader Summit, 1ASEAN Entrepreneur Summit and ASEAN Cultural Expressions.
Meanwhile, Malaysia will also direct efforts to promote cross-border investments and trade.
“While there has been an upward trajectory of growth in this area in the last few years, I believe that there is still a lot more room for improvement,” he said.
In enhancing ASEAN’s role as a global player, Anifah said the grouping must continue to be progressive and outward-looking, especially with the evolving regional and global strategic landscapes.
“For this reason, it is necessary for ASEAN to exercise and maintain its centrality and proactive role as the primary driving force in a open, transparent and inclusibe regional architechture,” he added.
Malaysia is chairing ASEAN for 2015, taking over from Myamnar.
The two-day retreat which ended today is the curtain-raiser for the series of ministerial and related meetings under Malaysia’s ASEAN chairmanship this year.
Themed ‘Our People, Our Community, Our Vision’, Malaysia’s vision throughout the chairmanship is the creation of a ‘people-centred ASEAN’ involving all sectors of society in the grouping’s activities. – BERNAMA