Jakarta (ANTARA News) - ASEAN leaders on Sunday expressed their commitment to promote ASEAN connectivity that will benefit all member states through enhanced trade, tourism, people-to-people exchanges and development.

The commitment was believed to complement ongoing regional efforts to realize a people-oriented ASEAN Community by 2015, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said when reading out the ASEAN leaders` joint statement, thus officially closing the 18th ASEAN Summit here on Sunday.

Through enhanced connectivity between the mainland and archipelagic states in ASEAN, production and distribution networks in the region would be deepened and enlarged and become more entrenched in the East Asia and global economy.

In addition, the president also said ASEAN leaders welcomed the establishment of the ASEAN Connectivity Coordinating Committee (ACCC) and the ASEAN Connectivity National Coordinators (NC) and tasked both mechanisms to expedite the implementation of the Master Plan on ASEAN connectivity.

He also said that the leaders commended the strong support and commitment of ASEAN dialogue partners and other external partners, including other stakeholders for the implementation of the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity.

Furthermore, the president stressed that ASEAN leaders also welcomed the report of the First Meeting of the ASEAN Connectivity Coordinating Committee (ACCC) held in Jakarta recently, and commended the work of the Committee, thus calling on the relevant sectoral bodies of the three Community Councils to coordinate and extend cooperation and support to ACCC.

However, the ASEAN leaders were reported to have tasked their finance ministers to expedite the establishment and the guidelines on the use of the ASEAN Infrastructure Fund (AIF) which would play a catalyst role in resource mobilization with the help of external partners.

The Indonesia-Malaysia-Thailand Growth Triangle (IMT-GT), the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) and Greater Mekong Sub region (GMS) as fundamental building blocks for the ASEAN inter-connectivity as a whole were highly appreciated, the president said.

Besides, the ASEAN leaders in a joint statement were reported to have agreed to explore the development of an ASEAN Business Travel Card that would help facilitate the movement of business people in the region and thereby promote people-to-people connectivity and called for the master plan.

As a whole , the ASEAN Connectivity is the first step in the development of enhanced connectivity between ASEAN and Northeast Asia, South Asia and beyond with remains a long term goal, thus noting the possibility of having a connectivity master plan plus which would explore connectivity beyond ASEAN focused on Northeast Asia, South Asia and other regions, the president said.(*)

(T. E002/H-NG /a014 )

Editor: Ruslan Burhani
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