Leaders within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations need to close the income gap in the region in order to ensure sustainability of countries’ economic and free trade pacts, Indonesian Bank Mandiri’s chief executive said April 20, according to a Jakarta Globe report.
The ASEAN Economic Community, which will go into effect at the end of this year, is aiming to bring the Southeast Asian region into a single production base by allowing freer movement of goods, people and capital in order to boost ASEAN’s global competitiveness.
“There is one item that people almost always forget — equitable economic development,” said Mr Budi Gunadi Sadikin, the president director of Bank Mandiri, in the first session of the 24th World Economic Forum in Jakarta on April 20.
Mr Budi noted that the AEC has been dominating intellectual discussion in the region but has yet to raise awareness of its benefit among the public, particularly the less privileged in the region.
“We have to put a clear intention that rich countries like Singapore and Malaysia wholeheartedly or passionately try to bring other countries like Indonesia and Vietnam closer to them,” Mr Budi said.
Singapore’s gross domestic product per capita is four times that of Indonesia’s GDP per capita and 43 times that of Myanmar, the poorest in the region.
“If the focus is only to make us bigger, that will create unsustainability,” Mr Budi said.
This latest World Economic Forum, attended by representatives from Asia and Southeast Asia, including Myanmar, started on April 19 and it set to finish on April 21.