KUALA LUMPUR: Asean has been urged to implement doable measures to spur integration under the Asean Community which will be launched.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, who will hand over the Asean chair to Laos on Sunday, also called on the grouping to build a community of nations that would prosper together.
Speaking at the Asean Business and Investment Summit, Najib said he had received a report from the business community recommending measures to improve economic integration under the Asean Economic Community (AEC).
The report was produced by the Asean Business Advisory Council.
The AEC, which seeks to create a single market and production base in the region, is one of the three pillars of the Asean Community which will be formed by the end of next month.
“Some of them (the recommendations) are very doable,” said Najib, citing the proposal for an Asean Business Card to facilitate business travellers in the region as an example.
“If Apec (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) can do it, why can’t we? When you arrive at an airport and you see a sign saying Asean lane, you get a feeling that being someone from the region means something.”
Najib said cultivating a sense of belonging to Asean was the next step in the regional body’s community-building journey.
“It will take generations, but we have to begin the journey now.”
Najib said there were many other things that could be done to make it easier for businesses in the region.
They include removing non-tariff barriers and non-tariff measures, helping small and medium enterprises and micro enterprises to operate beyond national boundaries within Asean, creating freer movement of skilled personnel.
Beyond businesses, Asean, he said, should look at measures to create a greater interaction and understanding, for example by making it easier for youths to study in any member country.
Najib said that as long as Asean stood united with its core values, he was certain the region could deliver continued sustainable and inclusive growth.
“This is the Asean Community that we need to build, and we need to prosper together.”