The 30th ASEAN Summit opened on Saturday in Manila, the Philippines with the attendance of leaders of ten member states.
In his opening remarks, Philippines’s President Rodrigo Roa Duterte said “we gather here today with the desire to move forward together.”
Unity, solidarity and cooperation have defined ASEAN over the last five decades and these have been crucial to ASEAN’s success, he said.
During this year’s summit, the regional leaders will discuss on orientations and measures to enhance internal connectivity and effectively implement the ASEAN Community Vision 2025.
The ASEAN leaders affirmed that solidarity, unity and internal strength are the foundation for the next development stage of the bloc.
They committed to further striving for sustainable growth, narrowing development gap, improving ASEAN’s competitiveness, and enhancing its capacity to cope with emerging challenges.
The leaders also stressed the need to continue reforming and improving the effectiveness of ASEAN cooperation and mobilizing the engagement of people in the ASEAN Community building process.
Malaysian Prime Minister Dato Sri Najib Tun Razak has urged ASEAN member states to cut barriers to trade, such as tariff and non-tariff measures (NTMs), while strengthening e-commerce in the region.
In his keynote speech during the Prosperity Summit for All on Friday, coinciding with the 30th ASEAN Summit and Related Meetings, Najib pointed out that NTMs and non-tariff barriers (NTBs) between 2000 and 2015 ballooned from 1,634 to 5,975.
“This cannot be tolerated. It has to be checked. It has to be reversed,” Najib stressed.
The Malaysian Prime Minister mentioned that ASEAN is projected to be the world’s fourth largest economy by 2030 with gross domestic product (GDP) amounting to USD9.2 trillion. But for the region to reach the USD9.2-trillion economy, NTBs and NTMs should be slashed by 50 percent./.