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Close ASEAN cooperation urged to promote growth

Cambodia,Diplomacy, Tue, 03 Apr 2012 IANS

Phnom Penh, April 3 (IANS) Cambodia, the current ASEAN chair, has called for stronger financial cooperation among its member countries to promote economic growth.


Prime Minister Hun Sen told the visiting leaders at the 20th summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations here Tuesday that many challenges still remain for the bloc.


The main agenda is to ensure that Southeast Asia is on track to meet an ambitious goal of transforming in three years into a European Union-like community.


This includes moving towards a single market and production base, where people and goods can travel seamlessly, Hun said at the two-day summit.


Hun insisted that political will is needed to ensure legislation for migrant workers, loosen trade barriers, develop infrastructure and narrow economic growth gaps.


The 10 ASEAN countries -- Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam -- are home to 600 million people.


Outlining the global challenges of high oil prices, the Eurozone debt crisis and lackluster recovery of the US, the Cambodian prime minister emphasized on the need to collectively deal with the challenges to economic growth, Xinhua reported.


"The ASEAN must strengthen mechanisms for financial stability within the region. The Chiang Mai Initiative is essential for this role and we call for the current fund of $120 billion to be doubled to $240 billion as soon as possible," he said.


To narrow the development gap, he stressed that selected projects from the ASEAN Integration Plan must be implemented under a common flag.


He also added that the proposals outlined in his speech will be included in the Phnom Penh Agenda for continued deliberations at later summits.


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