The upcoming trend of regional integration is expected to boost the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (ASEAN) member economies, an official from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said.

At a forum in the Philippine city of Makati on May 13, Romain Duval, division chief for regional studies at the IMF’s Asia department, said closer ties will increase productivity in Southeast Asia.

In its latest Regional Economic Outlook for Asia and the Pacific, the IMF forecast that ASEAN’s economic growth will slow down to 5 percent in 2014 from 5.1 percent in 2013, before accelerating to 5.3 percent in 2015.

The ASEAN member states have been preparing for the launch of the bloc’s integrated economic community next year since 2007. The goal is creating a highly-competitive single market that will boast equitable economic development.

Duval added that since the economies will be more integrated, for example in trade, a shock occurring in one of the countries may easily spill over to the others.

Therefore, there should be more regional financial safety nets and members should also join global financial safety, he noted.

Economies in the region should continue sustaining strong macroeconomic fundamentals, maintain a healthy external payments position and ensure a relatively high level of international reserves as an added buffer to financial shocks, Duval added.

Established in 1967, ASEAN comprises Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.-VNA