Zambo is ready for ASEAN economic integration- Beng PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 28 May 2014 13:44

Zamboanga City, being the country’s gateway to the Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines East Asian Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) and a highly urbanized city with more than 800,000 inhabitants, is ready for the integration of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) into an economic community.

Mayor Beng Climaco made the statement during the ASEAN Economic Community Forum organized yesterday by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) through the Regional Development Council (RDC) for Region 9 at the Grand Astoria Hotel, this city.

“The city’s multiculturalism is its identity as a city and this is evidently woven into its tapestry, food and language, and the daily hustle of people in this busy city with seaport and airport of international standards not to mention the economic zone and Freeport are the main engines of growth in the region,” Climaco told the forum participants, among them were municipal mayors and business leaders from different parts of the Zamboanga Peninsula.

Climaco asserted that Region 9 should not be left out in the fusion of ASEAN economies. “That’s why we have to awaken ourselves. Look at our potentials and really produce and hone the products that we have,” she said.

“If we are to synch with the ASEAN economic community,” Climaco stressed, “we have to assess what particular products we have, what particular strategic areas of strength we have and let us really hone and work for what we have.” “We cannot give what we do not have,” she added.

The lady chief executive said that as leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations affirmed their commitment to the creation of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) by 2015 and “to transform ASEAN into a region with free movement of goods, services, investment, skilled labor, and freer flow of capital”, it is just apt and timely to look at the role of the city and the region in this imminent convergence of nations and economies.

In the case of Zamboanga, Climaco said, the city boasts of its pink-sand Sta. Cruz Island and just recently a group of foreign tourists came over for the Summer Festival despite the travel advisories from western countries.

“If you have the potentials, if you have the product, if you have all that is needed for safety and security, then people will go. It just needs our cooperation to develop what we have,” Climaco averred.

To recall, the ASEAN was established on Aug. 8, 1967 in Bangkok, Thailand with the signing of the ASEAN Declaration (also known as the Bangkok Declaration) by the founding member-countries, namely Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. Brunei Darussalam joined on Jan. 7, 1984, Viet Nam on July 28, 1995, Lao PDR and Myanmar on July 23, 1997, and Cambodia on April 30 1999, making up today’s 10 member-states of the ASEAN headed by Dr. Surin Pitsuwan as the secretary-general.

The ASEAN Declaration is aimed at forging cooperation in the economic, social, cultural, technical, educational and other fields, and in the promotion of regional peace and stability through abiding respect for justice and the rule of law, adherence to the principles of the United Nations Charter.

The ASEAN Economic Community or AEC, on the other hand, is a market-driven process wherein the member-states are called upon to actively engage the private sector in shaping and improving coherence, transparency and attain synergies between government and business sectors in building the AEC. — Vic Larato