Malaysia is optimistic that Asean is ready to be integrated into a single economic block by December next year despite uncertainties in the economic growth in eurozone and the United States.
International Trade and Industry Minister Mustapa Mohamed said that the 10 member countries would be able to cushion the negative impact from the two regions.
“On the average, Asean countries have recorded a 5 per cent economic growth yearly, which is commendable in view of the unfavourable global economic scenario,'' he said.
Mustapa was speaking to reporters at the sidelines of the 8th World Islamic Economic Forum after delivering a key note address on “Asean Regional Integration 2015 Opportunities for Business and Investment”.
He said if the growth among Asean countries continued in the coming years, the grouping would emerge as a strong economic powerhouse by 2025 after China.
Mustapa said intra-Asean trade amounted to US$2.15 trillion last year while foreign direct investment in Asean countries was US$89.2 billion.
“The different economic levels or achievement among Asean countries should not hinder Asean from becoming an economic powerhouse,'' he added.
Mustapa said Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam had recorded economic growth of 7 per cent yearly, which was higher than the average growth in other Asean countries.
He said investors and companies from Malaysia and Singapore were investing in these countries to further support their economic growth.
Meanwhile, Mustapa said Asean would not implement single-currency usage as practised in eurozone as Asean members were “comfortable” with the current practice of using several currencies in business transactions.
Separately, he said Singapore's slow growth did not have much impact on Asean, including Malaysia, as unlike Greece and Spain, Singapore did not face an economic crisis.
“In fact, Singapore is having full employment and has to depend on foreign workers including Malaysians,” he said.
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