Jakarta backs common time zone for Asean

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak welcomes Indonesian President Joko Widodo (R) to the Prime Minister's Office in Putrajaya February 6, 2015.

INDONESIA - Indonesia is the latest South- east Asian nation to back Malay- sia's proposal for all capital cities in the region to adopt a common time zone to ramp up integration, especially in doing business.

President Joko Widodo told reporters yesterday that Indonesia would "pursue immediately an agreement on a common time zone as symbolic of ASEAN unity".

This follows Singapore's support for the idea - mooted before in 1995 and 2004 - after it was raised at the ASEAN foreign ministers' retreat last week.

Prime Minister Najib Razak of Malaysia, ASEAN's chair, explained that having a common time zone would ease business processes, especially with the "integration of capital markets in ASEAN".

The 10-member regional grouping is set to launch an ASEAN Economic Community by the year end, with measures already in place to reduce trade barriers and ease investment as well as movement of skilled labour. However, discussions are still at an early stage, with members yet to settle on an agreed time zone.

The region straddles four time zones: for instance, the islands of Indonesia stretch from GMT +7 to GMT +9; it is GMT +8 for Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines; while only Myanmar's time zone is GMT +6.5.

This article was first published on February 07, 2015.
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