ASEAN Secretary General Le Luong Minh (Photo: VNA)
Hanoi (VNA) – Narrowing the development gaps within and between the ASEAN member states is one of the top and long-term priorities of the association to build a dynamic, connective, and integrative bloc.

Therefore, since 2009, the group has implemented a Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity and an Initiative for ASEAN Integration, said ASEAN Secretary General Le Luong Minh in an interview granted to Jakarta-based Vietnam News Agency correspondents.

He noted that ASEAN - 6 comprising the first members of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand, together with its partner countries and international organisations provided technical and capital support for their other peers of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam (CLMV) to enhance capacity in realising integration initiatives and programmes.

Despite encouraging outcomes in the field, the development gaps between the ASEAN member nations remain big, he said, citing the per capita income in the richest ASEAN countries is 45 times that of the poor ones – where development between urban and rural areas is also uneven.

He urged the bloc to further the implementation of the Post-2015 Vision, the Initiative for ASEAN Integration, and the ASEAN Framework for Equitable Economic Development.

At the recent 47th Meeting of the ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM) in Malaysia, leaders of the member countries agreed to promote economic integration by harmonising rules, regulations, and standards and increasing greater transparency.

They concurred to expedite the use of information-technology to facilitate intra-ASEAN trade and investment and strengthen sub-regional growth and spur border trade and investment.

Accelerating the liberalisation of services, including financial ones and capital market integration, is expected to provide necessary infrastructure and facilities for businesses, especially small-and medium-sized enterprises.

The private sector is encouraged to proactively integrate into the global economy.-VNA