6 April 2017 | Lapu-Lapu City, Philippines

Philippine Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III (6th from left) leads the ASEAN Finance Ministers on their 12th Investor Seminar in Lapu-Lapu City April 6.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said here Thursday that now is the best time to invest in the economies of the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) that are expected to collectively become a strong driver of global growth in the next decade.

Dominguez, who is this year’s host of the ASEAN Finance Ministers Investors’ Seminar (AFMIS) and ASEAN Finance Ministers’ Meeting, said the regional bloc’s envisioned single market and production base under the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) will require massive investments, with a detailed AEC blueprint and a Masterplan on ASEAN Connectivity for 2025 already developed by the member-economies.

He said the AEC presents for investors various benefits and advantages, such as a strong market of 600 million people and a 300 million-strong labor force that is young, talented and dynamic.

“The regional economy we envision is a truly ambitious undertaking that will require massive investments. But we have momentum and opportunity on our side. The support of the investor community will be indispensable for this undertaking to succeed,” Dominguez said in his opening remarks at the AFMIS, which is holding its 12th meeting at the Shangri-La Mactan Resort.

“Our governments are convinced that globalization is the way to progress. Our economies have much headroom for rapid expansion, beginning from a massive infrastructure build-up that will bring our region increased efficiency,” he said.

The AFMIS is among the series of conferences held here in the run up to the meetings to be conducted separately and jointly among the ASEAN Finance Ministers and the ASEAN Central Bank Governors tomorrow(Friday).

The Philippines is this year’s chair of the ASEAN, which is marking 50 years of existence with the theme “Partnering for Change, Engaging the World.”

Dominguez said that “towards realizing an ASEAN Economic Community, the regional grouping is “promoting e-commerce in the region, pooling resources to develop the infrastructure we need, facilitating trade and supporting each other’s rising expanding consumer markets.”

“We have developed a Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025 and a detailed AEC Blueprint 2025. In less than a decade, we aspire to build a truly dynamic regional economy,” he added.

“More extensive cooperation and more intensive integration have been beneficial to the economies of this dynamic region. All our economies are driven to a large extent by trade. The ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) provided us a framework for dramatically increasing intra-regional trade and investments,” he said.

“This allowed us to negotiate as a bloc with the larger trading economies around us through the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). Over the longer term, we envision an ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) that will provide a strong driver for growth among ourselves and global growth,” Dominguez said.

He said that “over the longer term, we envision an AEC that will provide a strong driver for global growth.”

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