ASEAN economic ministers have predicted a slowdown in regional economic growth this year amidst the European debt crises and planned spending cuts in the US.

The economies of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) grew at a collective 7.5 percent in 2010, but the figure was predicted to slip to below 6 percent this year , the ministers said in a statement following the 43 rd ASEAN Economic Ministers’ Meeting (AEM-43) in Manado , Indonesia , on August 13.

The ministers noted that there remain challenges and risks impacting on regional growth, including the European debt crisis and fiscal problems in some developed markets, rising food and commodity prices, and continued financial market stresses.

The ministers agreed that ASEAN should be vigilant in the face of these risks and improve the group’s competitiveness through deeper and wider integration among the economies.

However, Indonesian Trade Minister Mari Pangestu told reporters that Southeast Asia was well-placed to deal with the global economic uncertainty which was predicted to continue for years to come.

At AEM-43, the ministers also discussed ways to cope with threats of another possible global economic crisis.

ASEAN groups Brunei , Cambodia , Indonesia , Laos , Malaysia , Myanmar , the Philippines , Singapore , Thailand and Vietnam. /.