A book titled Narrowing the Development Gap in ASEAN: Drivers and Policy Options was launched at the ASEAN Secretariat headquarters in Jakarta on May 17.

The book is a collaborative effort between ASEAN and the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) within the framework of the second phase of the ASEAN-Australia Development Cooperation Programme.

Speaking at the launch ceremony, ASEAN Secretary General Le Luong Minh underscored the significance of the book at a time when the ten-nation group has two years left to build the ASEAN Community, which is scheduled to be formed by 2015.

The book assists ASEAN in its mid-term assessment of the implementation of connectivity and integration programmes as well as in building plans, measures and policies to follow the regional integration roadmap over the next two years, especially in narrowing the development gap, he said.

While affirming ASEAN’s efforts and achievements in narrowing the gap, Minh laid special emphasis on the need for the bloc to pay more attention to creating an equal and competitive economic region for sustainable development.

ASEAN member countries need to maintain their long-term goals and commitments on sustainable and equal economic development while narrowing the development gap at national and regional levels, especially in healthcare, education and income, he stressed.

Ambassador Vu Dang Dung, Head of Vietnam’s Permanent Representative Mission to ASEAN and Chair of the Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI) Task Force, highly valued AusAID’s assistance in compiling the book, which he said, collects research on difficulties, challenges and the potential of ASE AN in narrowing the development gap.

The book also introduce initiatives, measures and policies to help ASEAN member countries develop in a faster and fairer manner while boosting connectivity and human resource development.-VNA