42nd Asean Summits open, highlighting Asean centrality, economic growth

10 May 2023 10:37am
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (left) was greeted by Indonesian President Joko Widodo when he attended the 42nd ASEAN Summit 2023 in West Manggarai city, Flores archipelago in East Nusa Tenggara Province today. - BERNAMA
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (left) was greeted by Indonesian President Joko Widodo when he attended the 42nd ASEAN Summit 2023 in West Manggarai city, Flores archipelago in East Nusa Tenggara Province today. - BERNAMA
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LABUAN BAJO, Indonesia - The 42nd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit officially kicked off in the town of Labuan Bajo in eastern Indonesia on Wednesday, with Indonesian President Joko Widodo urging Asean unity and economic integration for the regional bloc to play a central role in regional peace and development.

"With unity, Asean will be able to be a central player in bringing peace and development," he noted.

"In the future, Asean must strengthen its economic integration, strengthen inclusive cooperation, including the implementation of RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership), and strengthen the health, food, and energy architecture, as well as maintain the financial stability," he said, according to Xinhua.

The summit is expected to produce a roadmap for Timor-Leste's full membership. Last November, Asean agreed in principle to admit Timor-Leste to be its 11th member. Timor-Leste's Prime Minister Taur Matan Ruak was present at the Summit and delivered a speech following President Widodo's opening address, stressing a mutual recognition of a strong sense of togetherness in Asean community building, and reviewing his country's major efforts towards the Asean membership.

This year, the Summit under Indonesia's Asean chairmanship is themed "Asean Matters: Epicentrum of Growth." Indonesia has expressed hope that the bloc will remain a centre of regional and global growth, focussing on efforts to make Asean a fast-growing, inclusive, and sustainable economic region in the long term.

The Asian Development Bank forecast in early April that developing Asia's gross domestic product will grow by 4.8 per cent this year and in 2024, up from 4.2 per cent in 2022, noting growth in the Asia-Pacific region remains resilient.

For the Summit, Indonesia has prepared a grand vision of Asean 2045 as well as a discussion process on the draft Asean Leaders Declaration to strengthen Asean's institutional capacity and effectiveness, according to foreign ministry spokesperson Teuku Faizasyah on Monday last week.

Asean, founded in 1967, groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. - BERNAMA-XINHUA

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