ASEAN urged to promote regional integration

2012-11-18 09:27:45 GMT2012-11-18 17:27:45(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

PHNOM PENH, Nov. 18 (Xinhua) -- The members of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) should bring the treaties ratified into practice in their joint endeavor to realize the ASEAN Community by 2015, a top official said here Sunday.

Speaking at a press briefing at the ongoing ASEAN summit, ASEAN Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan said that participating leaders, in their talks, have been satisfied with the progress made in seeking regional integration.

"Some 74-75 percent of major instruments of cooperation among ASEAN members on establishing the community have been ratified by the member states," Pitsuwan said. However, he stressed that ratification of the instruments is not end of the work. "Each member state will have to bring the treaties to implementation and practice from regional level down to the state level."

The summit took place against the complicated backdrop of lingering eurozone debt crisis, turbulence in the Middle East and U.S. fiscal cliff. All this would dampen the economic growth of ASEAN, said the secretary-general.

The average economic growth rate of ASEAN is estimated to reach 5.1-5.2 percent, while economy of Indonesia, which has its own resources and market, will continue to grow beyond 6 percent.

Pitsuwan also urged ASEAN nations to guard against non-tariff measures and non-tariff barriers in tackling challenges the 10- member grouping is facing.

ASEAN's free trade agreement with China has been working wonderfully. Southeast Asian countries have benefited a great deal from it as trade has jumped 20 percent a year.

"We hope there will be more investment from China into the landscape of Southeast Asia," Pitsuwan said.

Sunday also saw the adoption of a Human Rights Declaration by ASEAN members. A new paragraph was added to the second section of the document that deals with the operating mechanism of the declaration.

"The new paragraph will be focusing on ensuring implementation of the declaration in accordance with international and ASEAN commitments held by the members," said Secretary of State of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Kingdom of Cambodia Dr. Kao Kim Hourn.

The ASEAN Summit precedes an ASEAN-plus-three Summit and the 19- nation East Asia Summit which brings together the leaders of ASEAN, the United States, China, Japan, South Korea, Russia, India, Australia and New Zealand.

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