At the 24th ASEAN Summit, which took place last weekend in Myanmar, several ASEAN countries released joint statements on regional economic cooperation. This includes the Joint Statement of 8th Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand Growth Triangle (IMT-GT) and the Joint Statement of 10th Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area Summit (BIMP-EAGA). The following is a summary of key points from the two statements.
The Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand Growth Triangle (IMT-GT) was formed in 1993 to improve economic performances in less developed provinces and regions of the three member countries. The 8th IMT-GT Summit, which took place during the ASEAN Summit, marked the 20th anniversary of the Growth Traingle’s establishment. At this summit, the members focused on examining the progress of building the proposed Special Border Economic Zones (SBEZ) that improves transportation to and soft infrastructures in the underdeveloped areas. They stressed the importance of increasing connectivity in terms of air, land and sea transportation for economic development.
Members of the IMT-GT also checked the progress of the IMT-GT Implementation Blueprint (IB) 2012-2016 and steered the project toward incorporating Halal standards (Islamic dietary restriction) in products and services, science and technology, trade and investment and human resources development.
In addition, members of the IMT-GT reaffirmed the role and commitment of the organization in narrowing developmental gaps among ASEAN countries. They suggested building strategic linkages among ASEAN countries in the infrastructure sector, especially in transportation. This shows that potential opportunities for investing in infrastructure projects are opening up under ASEAN policies.
The Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area Summit (BIMP-EAGA) was established in 1994. Similar to the IMT-GT, this initiative covers the less developed areas of member countries, aiming to promote the local agricultural industry, natural resources-based manufacturing and ecotourism in the short and medium-term and to establish non-resource-based industries in the long run.
At the 10th BIMP-EAGA Summit, which was also held during the 2014 ASEAN Summit, members noted that they were pleased with the progress in improving transportation through building new land and sea infrastructures, such as the Brunei Darussalam-Malaysia Friendship Bridge. They also encouraged the opening of new air and waterway routes. All these efforts are designed to make the less developed regions in member countries destinations for ecotourism and to encourage the development of the regional food basket.
Furthermore, BIMP-EAGA members also stressed the importance of cooperation in targeting environmental issues, though no specific policies were made on this matter.
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