The ASEAN Secretariat and the OECD Development Centre launched a collaborative project on the occasion of the 2nd OECD-Southeast Asia Regional Forum entitled “Enhancing Competitiveness through Regional Integration” which took place in Bangkok on Monday 29 April 2009.
At the Forum’s opening ceremony, the Secretary-General of ASEAN Dr. Surin Pitsuwan welcomed the joint collaboration to produce the Southeast Asian Economic Outlook. The report will serve as a tool for facilitating policy dialogue between OECD Member and Southeast Asian states, by providing up-to-date information on regional macroeconomic trends and policy developments, as well as the progress of regional integration among the latter group of countries which is one of the thematic issues of the first edition to be published in 2010.
“This partnership will bring to the ASEAN Secretariat the much needed resources and expertise to identify the progress and gaps and challenges facing economic integration in ASEAN", he said. “The global financial crisis that hit the region in the last quarter of 2008 highlights the importance of improving the risk management framework to implement the roadmap of establishing the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) by 2015 as planned. Hopefully, this Outlook will serve as a tool for promoting peer learning among all stakeholders involved in the region by identifying potential risks and challenges ahead.”
The Deputy Secretary- General of the OECD Mr. Mario Amano also welcomed this collaboration and said,
“We support the goal of economic integration as outlined in the AEC Blueprint and the ASEAN Charter to create a stable, prosperous and competitive economic community.”
The Southeast Asian Economic Outlook comprises two main parts. Part 1, entitled Regional Economic Perspectives, will discuss macroeconomic trends, regional integration and growth in the region. It will provide an overall picture of what is happening in the region and identify potential risks and policy challenges which will be a bridge to thematic discussion in the subsequent part. Part 2 - Development Challenges - will offer detailed analyses on thematic issues. The main topic will change in every volume; the first edition in 2010 will focus on how to enhance competitiveness in Southeast Asia, with three thematic issues, namely, productivity gains from trade opening, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) development and innovation, and infrastructure development.
Dr. Surin added that “the initiative will help build the capacity of the ASEAN Secretariat to improve the data quality of its regional integration indicators and to further enhance regional surveillance efforts to provide timely alerts and advice to ASEAN and its Dialogue Partners on the regional economic trends, issues and priorities.”
This new Outlook will build upon the successful model of two regional economic outlooks, the African Economic Outlook and the Latin American Economic Outlook, both produced annually by the Development Centre in partnership with regional organisations. The Southeast Asian Economic Outlook will be a biannual product with an update of the first part to be released every year.
“Our two organisations have a lot in common and a lot to share and the important new missions between ASEAN and OECD would open further opportunities for strengthening our relations,” Mr. Amano further added.