ASEAN stumbling on road to single community goal by 2015, Brunei urges political will

ASEAN stumbling on road to single community goal by 2015, Brunei urges political will
(45 mins ago)

Asian leaders began meeting today in Brunei against a backdrop of divisive territorial disputes and flagging free trade efforts. Opening the 23rd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Brunei today, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah (pictured) said the outlook for the bloc was positive, but there are challenges to the one community goal.
“Overall the outlook for the ASEAN region remains promising,” Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah said. “Nonetheless, with two years left to go we still face challenges in implementing our community roadmap.”He also said ASEAN countries “should ensure the region’s financial stability as well as be an effective and competitive destination for trade and investment.’’
ASEAN has only two more years to become a European Union-like community but has been struggling to align key infrastructure, trade and policy frameworks to meet the deadline.
The sultan also called for the ASEAN countries to work together in areas such as trade facilitation and logistics to promote business environment in the region.
He added there has been some progress and overall, the ASEAN countries have to continue to solidify their political will in doing what they can do to realize the community goal by 2015.
ASEAN is pushing an ambitious 16-nation free trade zone called the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, which also involves Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.
The initiative is seen as rivalling the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 12-nation trade pact championed by Washington.
In Brunei, US President Barack Obama’s top diplomat John Kerry will shoulder the task of showing support for America’s Asian allies, wary over Beijing’s uncompromising territorial claims to areas including most of the South China Sea.
China is represented at the gathering by Premier Li Keqiang.
Li said China’s relations with the region were at a ”historical starting point.’’
“China will in no way follow the old pattern of ‘seeking hegemony after becoming strong’,” Li said in an interview published in Brunei media.
Obama had said earlier in the year he planned during the Brunei gathering to lend his presidential prestige to calls for a speedy agreement between China and ASEAN on a code of conduct at sea to avoid accidental conflict.
But analysts said Obama’s absence deprives ASEAN the chance to rally behind US power.
“To some degree, [Obama’s absence] has lessened the prominence of sovereignty issues in the South China Sea at the summit,” said Shi Yinhong of Renmin University in Beijing.
“And maybe the Chinese role will become more prominent as a result.”
China has succeeded in lowering temperatures by agreeing recently to join with ASEAN in initial talks toward a code of conduct, though some experts view that as a bid to buy time as Beijing continues to build its regional clout.
“[China] is not going to compromise on its claims,” said Ian Storey of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore.
China signalled ahead of the meetings that it would not look kindly on attempts to raise sea disputes at an expanded East Asia Summit of 18 nations Thursday, in comments that appeared aimed at Washington.—Xinhua/AFP

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (, the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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