Asean trade ministers want leaders to focus on economic issues

Asean trade ministers want leaders to focus on economic issues
Joint effort: Mustapa (sixth from left), with US Trade representative Michael Froman beside him, posing for a group photograph with other officials at the Asean Economic Ministers meeting in Kuala Lumpur.

KUALA LUMPUR - ASEAN trade ministers want economic issues to be at the top of the agenda at their leaders' summit which will be held here in November.

International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said ASEAN economic ministers decided that more emphasis should be given to the economy during the upcoming meeting in the light of current currency and market volatility.

"In light of the current economic situation and how it is affecting all countries including China, we feel it is important for our heads of state and governments to pay more attention to economic issues when they gather in Kuala Lumpur," Mustapa said at a media briefing.

World leaders, including US President Barack Obama, are scheduled to attend the 27th ASEAN Summit and related meetings.

Yesterday, ASEAN economic ministers held a number of meetings, including several with their counterparts or representatives from the East Asia Summit (EAS) forum.

The EAS comprises ASEAN's 10-member countries as well as the United States, Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand and Russia.

Mustapa said the main focus during the EAS meeting was to share information and updates on the economic situation amid the current uncertainties due to low oil prices as well as market and currency volatility.

On another matter, Mustapa said that despite current external economic worries, confidence on ASEAN's prospects remained high in the business communities of the region as well as in China, Japan and South Korea.

He said the East Asia Business Council (EABC) in its meeting with ASEAN economic ministers expressed continued confidence in ASEAN's prospects.

Mustapa said the EABC also expressed support for ASEAN's effort to create a single market and production base through the ASEAN Economic Community.

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