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Malaysia's leader: ASEAN seen growing to 4th-largest economy

28 April 2017

The 10-countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, could form the world's fourth largest economy by 2030 though work is needed to help small companies and reduce trade barriers, Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak said Friday.

"Everybody would of course like to have a greater economic relationship with the United States, they are a big country, one of the biggest consumers as well, but it may not rank high in the ASEAN agenda". The big challenge is to ensure that the integration of our individual economies, that is necessary for ASEAN itself to become a significant world market, is driven through.

Najib urged that ASEAN members bring average tariffs to zero or near zero from the 4 percent average seen in 2015.

Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah has arrived in the country for his participation on the 30th Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit this week. "The ASEAN summit is an opportunity for us to drum up to our neighbors that there is this development happening in the Philippines and they can participate", Cusi said after attending the closed-door quarterly roundtable of the Wallace Business Forum at the Shangri-la Hotel in Makati City.

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"We must work to facilitate intra-Asean trade further".

"To achieve the US$9.2 trillion figure by 2050 there has to be a 20 per cent reduction in fixed trade costs".

"Most of all, non-tariff barriers and measures (NTB/NTM) must be reduced and ultimately removed".

The prime minister revealed that between 2000 and 2015, NTBs and NTMs in ASEAN actually rose - from 1634 measures to 5975.

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"We do not want our citizens to be marginalized", he said.

"This has to be checked and reversed", Najib said.

The Philippines is the chairman and host of this year's Asean Summit. There is no alternative if we wish to be able to seize that prize.

"These are important, as without economic success, there is nothing to be shared", he said.

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Philippines Vice President Leni Robredo echoed Najib's call for leaders to pay more attention to their poor.