The opening of a single Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) market and production base characterized by free movement of goods, services, investments, skilled labor, and capital by 2015 offers great opportunities for the Philippines, especially for the Mindanao region.
Mindanao is expected to benefit from the formation of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) by 2015 as it is a key part of the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) sub-regional cooperation. The Mindanao Development Authority and Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry-Mindanao formed the Mindanao Trade Policy Center during the ASEAN 2015 Regional Integration forum in General Santos City to serve as link for business chambers in the region. BIMP-EAGA initiatives have been integrated into ASEAN’s Master Plan for ASEAN Connectivity, establishing linkages to allow for increased trade, tourism, and investments.
The 10 ASEAN members – the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam – are gearing up for AEC 2015. With economic integration, the ASEAN is envisioned to be a key player in global economy like the European Union. ASEAN has a market of some 610 million people, with an aggregate Gross Domestic Product of $2,339 billion.
The idea for an AEC started during the 2nd ASEAN Informal Summit in Kuala Lumpur in 1997 when ASEAN Leaders adopted ASEAN Vision 2020 focusing on economic development and regional integration to generate sustainable and equitable growth. The vision was concretized through the Declaration of the ASEAN Concord II or Bali Concord II by ASEAN Leaders on October 7, 2003. At the 12th ASEAN Summit in Cebu in January 9, 2007, the Leaders affirmed their commitment to accelerate the establishment of an ASEAN Community by 2015 and signed the Cebu Declaration on the Acceleration of the Establishment of an ASEAN Community by 2015. The Cha-am Hua Hin Declaration on the Roadmap for an ASEAN Community (2009-2015) was signed by ASEAN Leaders at the 14th ASEAN Summit in Thailand in 2009.
We wish the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Secretary-General Le Luong Minh, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, led by its Chairman Ambassador Alfredo M. Yao, and President Atty. Miguel B. Varela, the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry-Vice President for Mindanao headed by Ricardo C. Juliano, and Mindanao Development Authority Chairperson Luwalhati R. Antonino, all the best and success as they prepare for the 2015 ASEAN Economic Community. CONGRATULATIONS AND MABUHAY!