Focus on closing the ASEAN economic gap: minister

Minister of national planning and economic development U Kan Zaw called for efforts to close the economic gap between different ASEAN countries during his opening address of the 46th ASEAN Economic Ministers meeting in Nay Pyi Taw on August 25.

Macroeconomic stability, streamlining regulations and investment in infrastructure and human resources are key areas to be addressed, he said.

“Though we are trying our best to narrow down the development gap among ASEAN members, it is still a great threat to the sustainability of socio-economic development of ASEAN achieved over the past four decades,” he said.

Statistics show large differences in ASEAN members’ relative wealth. Singapore at US$54,775 and Brunei at $39,942 have the largest current GDP per capita, while countries like Myanmar at $868 and Cambodia at $1016 sit at the lower end, according to April 2014 statistics from the International Monetary Fund.

U Kan Zaw’s comments followed President U Thein Sein’s speech, where he called for work on SME development, enhanced public-private partnerships and moving ASEAN beyond 2015 as the three key deliverables for ASEAN member states.

Myanmar is this year’s ASEAN chair, and is hosting a number of meetings on different areas of concern throughout the year. While the Economic Ministers’ meeting is more low-key, some of the meetings – such as the Foreign Minister’s August 8 to 10 meeting – drew wide attention and visits from international heavyweights such as US secretary of state John Kerry.


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