KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 20, 2015:

Minister of International Trade and Industry, Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed has called for a greater awareness on Asean and Asean Economic Community (AEC) among the younger generation and small-and-medium enterprises (SMEs).

He said Asean leaders should focus on engaging the school children and university students to educate them on Asean and demonstrate to the SMEs on the benefits of being part of closer economic integration.

“If we address those two segments, then Asean will do a lot better in terms of awareness,” Mustapa said during a Special Ministerial Panel with Asean Economic Ministers at the Asean Business and Investment Summit 2015 today.

The panel was also attended by Cambodia’s Sun Chanthol, Indonesia’s Thomas Trikasih Lembong, Laos’ Khemmani Pholsena, Myanmar’s Dr Kan Zaw and Vietnam’s Nguyen Cam Tu.

Mustapa said overall this year there certainly has been a higher awareness on Asean and the role of AEC as compared to last year.

“Over the last few months, there’s been more awareness on Asean and I’m happy that more people are aware of what Asean stands for and what AEC is all about,” he said.

He added that Asean Economic Ministers must ensure that every citizen of Asean is instilled with the 1Asean spirit and also understand what Asean stands for.

Speaking on the achievements made by Asean countries so far in 2015, Mustapa said there have been a lot of energy, dynamism, synergy and chemistry among Asean Economic Ministers.

The cooperation between the 10-member Asean nations has helped the countries in the region to move forward to achieve more connectivity among Asean economies as well as inter-Asean trade and investments, he said.

“In my personal view, Asean will achieve a lot more and I’m confident that by 2025 we would achieve our goals in terms of having an inter-Asean trade and integration in investments as well as reducing non-tariff barriers and having a mutual recognition agreement between Asean countries,” Mustapa said.

The Asean Community Vision 2025 — which will be unveiled at the 27th Asean Summit this weekend — aims to sustain the momentum of regional integration and contribute towards strengthening further the Asean community building efforts.

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