ASEAN celebrate 50th foundation ‘versary
KUWAIT: The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) regional bloc marked its 50th foundation anniversary Wednesday night with exhibitions, fashion and cultural shows, plus food delicacies of these countries. The event was held at the Jumeirah Hotel in Messillah, and was attended by various ambassadors, dignitaries from ASEAN and others. ASEAN chairmanship is currently being held by the Philippines, and therefore the Ambassador of the Philippines Renato Villa has acted as its gracious host this year. In addition to the Philippines, ASEAN countries comprise the Kingdom of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore and Thailand. If economies are combined from all 10 ASEAN member states, the ASEAN bloc would be the seventh largest in the world, and the upward trend continues.
According to Ambassador Villa, ASEAN countries have a combined GDP of $2.3 trillion. “If ASEAN is considered a single country, we are the seventh largest economy in the world,” he said in a speech after inaugurating the event. “ASEAN is a free market. We can freely move our products, capitals, skills and services. Our population combined is 625 million. We are a people-centered ASEAN community, united and have a common identity,” he added.
Ambassador Villa mentioned that all the ASEAN member states have excellent ties and strategic cooperation and alliances with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, not to mention the inclusive growth in bilateral trade, growing opportunities for investment, food and environment. “We have come to realize that we can achieve more and be more influential if we are united and act as one rather than individually. The collective capacities and synergies of ASEAN shall continue to accumulate and engage partnership with other countries, especially those that are extending friendships with us, just like what we have been doing for 50 years,” he said.
Meanwhile, Khaled Sulaiman Al-Jarallah, Kuwait’s Deputy Foreign Minister, said that GCC states recognized the growing influence of ASEAN countries. “The success of economic integration among ASEAN countries has sent strong inputs to the GCC countries,” he said. “ASEAN countries are among the most important trading partners of the GCC today. The rate of the trade between GCC and ASEAN has increase rapidly to about $127 billion.” Jarallah thanked the ASEAN bloc and the ambassadors, and also congratulated the Philippines for the successful chairmanship of the ASEAN bloc this year.
By Ben Garcia