Less talk, more action
Asean countries launched several initiatives at the end of the fourth informal summit. The aim is to bridge the gap between the less developed and developed economies and to raise overall regional competitiveness. It is guided by the “prosper they neighbour, prosper Asean” principle.
EDUCATION AND TRAINING
* Singapore has offered, under a five-year technical assistance programme, training institutes and programmes to Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam. Training will cover export promotion, human resource development, agriculture and food business. * Singapore will increase scholarships to Asean nationals from 30 to 60 a year.
* Asean leaders endorsed Singapore’s idea to kick-start information technology in the region. The e-Asean initiative will wire-up Asean in fields ranging from culture to economy. * They agreed to set up the Asian IT Belt, which will link information technology hubs from Singapore to Seoul. Japan has offered US$15 billion and China US$5 million. South Korea is prepared to give training.
* Thailand’s proposal for Asean Trade Fair. * Special session on HIV/Aids in next Asean summit in Brunei. * Beijing’s proposal to set up an expert group to look at speeding up economic links between Asean and China. * Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar to be involved in Apec working groups.
SPEEDING UP ONGOING PROJECTS
* Asean Free Trade Area. * Singapore-Kunming Railway project * Mekong Valley Project.