ASEAN countries urged to boost investment

The member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) should further boost investment to weather uncertainties of the current global economic climate, said its deputy secretary-general Lim Hong Hin Thursday.

One of the important lessons of the Asian financial crisis in 1997 is that recovery may not be sustainable without growth in private investment, Lim said.

The ongoing global economic uncertainties offer ASEAN the same lesson that the 10-nation bloc needs a domestically generated growth to sustain its medium-term growth prospect, reported Xinhua quoting Lim. 

The deputy secretary-general for ASEAN economic community was speaking at the forum on the ASEAN Comprehensive Investment Agreement (ACIA), which came into effect in 2012 to boost investment in the region. 

Strong domestic demand, especially domestic investment, has helped the economy of ASEAN countries remain dynamic despite the global uncertainties. 

According to Mustapa Mohamed, minister of International Trade and Industry of Malaysia, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of ASEAN grew by 5.2 percent in 2012, outpacing the global economy. 

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has predicted a 5 to 6 percent annual growth for the period of 2013 to 2017 in ASEAN. 

However, Lim said the ASEAN countries should do more to boost investment. "The dependence of most ASEAN countries on external demand has been an Achilles' heel that made us vulnerable to the crisis," he said. 

He urged the ASEAN countries to make the ACIA work in order to face the challenge posed by global uncertainties and realize the goal of achieving ASEAN Economic Community by 2015. 

"We have to make sure that it is not just another agreement, but something that will create a difference in transforming our different investment regimes into one integrated regime that can create opportunities for our economies, and more importantly, for the market," he said. 

ASEAN groups Indonesia, Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar and Vietnam.