TOKYO - Cabinet members and experts from Japan, Thailand and Cambodia discussed the theme "Prospects and Challenges for the ASEAN Economic Community" Thursday at Nikkei's annual Future of Asia international conference.
In the first half of the discussion, they agreed that there is no problem in strengthening economic co-operation in the ASEAN Economic Community, or AEC, slated to be launched this year.
"In history in general, we've never seen this level of a successful case for economic integration among developing countries," said Fukunari Kimura, a professor at Keio University's Faculty of Economics, praising the AEC. "What's more, AEC is beyond a simple [free trade agreement.] One of the important features of AEC is really combined industrialization strategies in this region."
Cambodian Minister of Commerce Sun Chanthol expressed his willingness to support the AEC. He said, "Cambodia, a small open economy, doesn't have any specific restrictions and support open trade. We believe that the trade agreement will improve the economic situation and living standards of our people."
Thailand's Deputy Prime Minister Pridiyathorn Devakula underscored, "the AEC is 10 nations with various stage of industrialization."
He also expressed confidence in the superiority of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, saying, "More interesting is cross-county investment. This is a new supply chain within the region, not only a supply chain, but also a network of production basis with range of quality."
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