‘No plans for ASEAN currency yet’
ASEAN nations are not yet looking at the possibility of having a common currency within the bloc but there is a need to do more for deeper economic integration, said an expert recently.
Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Director of Economic Division at the Department of ASEAN Affairs Phanpob Plangprayoon told ASEAN journalists here in Bangkok that, at present, “having a common currency among ASEAN is not going to happen”.
“At this point, there is nothing to suggest that they (ASEAN countries) would seriously look into this issue. However, we need to do more for deeper integration, and that is the underlying message,” he said.
“I think we have seen in the European Union the difficulties, and the pros and cons, of having a common currency. But having said that, there needs to be a way of making sure that we can do more to use our currencies among ourselves, and that it should be accepted cross borders,” the director added.
Phanpob also said that ASEAN markets need to deepen its integration to be more attractive as a production base or market to compete with the outside world.
“ASEAN needs to be competitive among themselves because they are competing with the world’s best. We have to constantly raise the bar among ourselves because we are already engaged with the outside world who are very competitive,” he said.
He added that the realisation of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) at the end of this year is only an initial step towards deeper integration in the region.
“It does not mean that at the end of this year, that is basically the end of the process. It means there will be continuous and deeper integration. The realisation of AEC at the end of this year is a milestone... in terms of agreeing to reach it with accordance to the AEC blueprint,” he said.
“There were many building blocks to get to this point, such as Free Trade Agreements,” he said.
Phanpob explained that the AEC is a necessity to allow ASEAN to compete with countries like India and China.
He explained that ASEAN realised that a lot of investments were flowing towards India and China.
Labour productivity was also not on par with China so ASEAN needed to get more competitive in that regard, he said.
“ASEAN has great potential. It has around 600 million citizens, but it was viewed as 10 separate markets and not one large market like the EU. So the idea is to get the market to become more integrated as one market,” he said.
“ASEAN already has zero tariffs. 99.65 per cent for imported goods at six countries. Phillippines, Singapore, Brunei and Thailand have lowered their tariffs to almost zero per cent for all goods,” he added.
Phanpob went on to say that it is also pertinent to make it easier for small and medium enterprises (SME) to do cross-border trade as SMEs make up 96 per cent of the economy in ASEAN.
The Brunei Times