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PETALING JAYA: Datuk Seri Najib Razak believes that the journey towards Asean Economic Community (AEC) in 2015, is well on course and irreversible.
In his message to participants of the 10th Asean Leadership Forum, the prime minister said the achievement of the AEC and the commencement of negotiations for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP) creating the world's largest free trade agreement (FTA), were exciting prospects for Asean.
"Asean has come a long way with three more years to the realisation of the Asean Economic Community in 2015, when Malaysia will be the chair of Asean.
"I believe the journey towards AEC is well on course and is irreversible," he said.
The one-day forum entitled, 'Asean at a Crossroads - Towards a Common Future, Shared Prosperity and Regional Stability', was opened by former prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi here today.
Najib said increased regionalisation had substantially increased intra-Asean trade, as well as Asean's trade with its key partners, namely China, Japan and India.
"China is today, Asean's largest trading partner. Asean's GDP in 2011 exceeded US$2 trillion and is expected to be US$10 trillion by 2030," he added.
He said Asean offered a lot of business and investment opportunities for the private sector, both within and outside Asean.
"The promise of Asean is bright and the business community needs to see the growing potential of enhanced regional integration. In this regard, I welcome the initiative of the Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute (Asli) in organising the annual series of Asean Leadership Forums," said Najib.
He also stressed on the importance of focusing on the younger generation, investing in human development, innovation and creativity at last year's Asean Leadership Forum in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
"These remain our key challenges in ensuring Asean remain competitive in a globalised economy," he said. -- BERNAMA