ASEAN leaders eye intra-regional connectivity
Manila (27 October) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and the nine other ASEAN leaders want to enhance what they call intra-regional connectivity, both in terms of transportation and communication.
At the 15th ASEAN Summit and Related Summits, the ten heads of state and government noted that ASEAN is at the crossroads of an economically vibrant and growing region bounded by developed and emerging economies of India, Japan and Republic of South Korea, New Zealand and Australia.
Thus, they added, ASEAN has the potential to become the transportation, information and communication technology and the tourism hub of the region.
Intra-regional connectivity, the leaders said, will benefit all ASEAN member states through enhanced trade, investment, tourism and development. It will be the answer to underdevelopment in Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Myanmar, since the creation of overland transport systems will have to go through these mainland South East Asian countries.
The program, if implemented, will significantly narrow the development gap within ASEAN.
In addition to the tangible economic benefits, the linkages will intensify and strengthen ASEAN cooperation and integration through people-to-people contacts.
The concept will complement regional efforts to make ASEAN Community by 2015 a reality by fostering a sense of shared cultural and historical linkages.
It is thus necessary, according to the ASEAN leaders, to fast-track development of infrastructure transport projects such as the ASEAN Highway Network and the Singapore-Kumming Rail Link.
Noting the importance of the Internet in business, education, and development, the leaders agreed that it is also crucial to complete the ASEAN ICT Masterplan in 2010 to enhance intra-regional information and communications technology linkages.
They also concluded that they must seek the support of their dialogue partners notably China, Japan, and South Korea, establish the necessary fund. (PIA) [top]