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ASEAN aims for greater global clout

By Prasanta J Baruah

HANOI (VIETNAM), Oct 29 � Regional leaders of Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) have vowed to continue their efforts to look for directions and measures to guarantee ASEAN�s central role as an international driving force while strengthening its cooperation with partners to build a strong common community.

Raising ASEAN�s central role is one of the key areas for discussion at the 17th ASEAN Summit in Hanoi, the region�s most important meeting of the year, where top leaders are meeting with regional partners.

The region is on its way to building the ASEAN community by 2015 and the ASEAN Charter, which came into force in 2008. Vietnam Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, as chairperson of the Summit, spoke highly of the major achievements made in the past year under Vietnam�s chairmanship in implementation of the charter and the roadmap for the ASEAN community.

The Prime Minister said that ASEAN will focus on enhancing the region�s role as an important force in maintenance of peace and stability in Southeast Asia and Asia-Pacific at large and acting as responsible member of the international community in responding to global challenges, especially the economic-financial crisis, climate change, natural disasters and pandemics.

The ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) , one of the three pillars of the future ASEAN community, has decided to form an ASEAN single market and common production base to achieve more equitable economic development and greater integration into the global economy. The ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement, a comprehensive legal instrument designed to encourage the free flow of goods, came into force last May.

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