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Deepening Asean's integration

  • Asean needs to step up its integration and enhance cross-border cooperation to maximize the region's overall strength in taking on the outside world in an increasingly competitive environment.

Sin Chew Daily

The curtain fell on the 34th Asean Summit in Bangkok on Sunday, with consensus reached on several issues to strengthen cooperation and deepen intra-regional relations.

The summit adopted the Bangkok Declaration to prevent and reduce marine debris, and strengthen national laws and regulations as well as enhance regional and international cooperation including on relevant policy dialogue and information sharing.

Given the increasing severity of the crisis of marine debris which must be addressed immediately, the declaration has been well received by all quarters.

Statistics show that some eight million tons of plastic waste go into our seas every year, choking to death countless of marine organisms while gaining access into the human food chain.

Marine Conservation Society pointed out that 60% of marine plastic debris had come from China and four Asean countries, namely Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand.

The adoption of the Bangkok Declaration marks a crucial step forward in tackling the marine debris problem.

This is definitely a good beginning, But, some fear that Asean's long-standing non-interference policy may make it impossible for member states to reach a consensus on major decisions and coordination.

As such, what the member states need to do now is to remove all obstacles that stand the way towards producing positive effects in minimizing marine debris.

In addition to marine debris, Asean member states also agreed to jointly bid for the hosting of 2034 FIFA World Cup.

Realistically, none of the member states alone is eligible to win the bid to host the world's bigger soccer event, but a joint bid by all ten countries in the region will significantly boost the grouping's chances.

It is known that China is also keen to host the 2034 World Cup, but Thai foreign minister Don Pramudwinai asserted that a joint bid by Asean-10 should be strong enough to defeat China's bid to host the event.

FIFA World Cup is the most watched sporting event in the world, and a host nation will be able to lure countless of soccer fans to its shores during the games. By hosting World Cup, Asean is poised to become the focus of the world and reap the immeasurable economic spinoffs.

At the same time, the world's biggest sporting extravaganza will also help deepen the regional grouping's integration and promote further cooperation and coordination.

Nevertheless, there is a plethora of challenges that confront the region for ten different countries to host the event, including coordination among member states, arrangement of matches and sharing of cost, among others.

Asean has displayed unprecedented consistency from Bangkok Declaration to the joint bid to host the World Cup, further strengthening the grouping's internal cooperation.

This is an encouraging phenomenon, as Asean indeed needs to step up its integration and enhance cross-border cooperation in order to maximize the region's overall strength in taking on the outside world in an increasingly competitive environment.

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