ASEAN trade ministers have pledged to accelerate the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community by 2015 and closely coordinate with partners in the fight against global economic slowdown.

At the two-day ASEAN Economic Council (AEC) Retreat that closed in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Oct. 15, the trade ministers from member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) affirmed three tasks to be done this year to consolidate forces within the region, widen ASEAN's engagement with existing dialogue partners and seek the bloc’s role in responding to global issues.

They also called for a greater transparency among ASEAN members and the removal of non-tariff measures to ease the integration progress, and to produce frameworks that would expand the engagement with existing and future dialogue partners.

They have also addressed proposals by dialogue partners, China and Japan, details of which they said would be conveyed to the two countries in November when the ASEAN Summit is held.

Indonesian Trade Minister Mari Elka Pangestu told the press after the retreat that ASEAN ministers shared the perspective on the impacts of the world economic slowdown on ASEAN’s exports, particularly those with high percentage of exports to Europe and the US. They agreed that member countries should work closely to respond to the global economic downturn.

Last year, trade among ASEAN members only accounted for 25 percent of the total 2.1 trillion USD achieved in the bloc./.