The 17th ASEAN Finance Ministers' Meeting wrapped up on April 4 in Bandar Seri Begawan , Brunei , issuing a joint statement that reaffirms their commitment to promote a stable and integrated ASEAN.

"We are determined to continue our efforts to work towards economic and financial integration," said the statement of the two-day meeting.

ASEAN finance ministers also pledged to narrow the development gap and raise the living standards of their people by slashing barriers to trade, investment and capital flows.

To consolidate ASEAN finance cooperation and economic integration, the participating ministers said the bloc’s member countries should enhance economic surveillance to attain regional economic integration.

"We are encouraged by the improved work of the ASEAN Integration Monitoring Office (AIMO), particularly with the development of surveillance reports, monitoring tools, and capacity building programmes," the statement said.

Meanwhile, the Task Force of the Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI) held the first consultation meeting on mobilising resources for and contribution to the implementation of the IAI Work Plan II (2009-2015), said a press release published on April 4 by the ASEAN Secretariat.

The force includes ambassadors and representatives from the ASEAN Dialogue Partners and third parties such as Australia , China, India , Japan , Republic of Korea , New Zealand , United States and the Japan International Cooperation Agency.

Initiated as a new format by current IAI Task Force Chair Vietnam , the meeting serves as a forum to share information among IAI stakeholders to raise awareness on the available resources for Cambodia , Laos , Myanmar , and Vietnam , and to determine the approaches for the improvement of the force’s activities.

The consultation, which took place at the ASEAN Secretariat on the threshold of the 42 nd IAI Task Force Meeting, was to respond to the growing interest in the IAI shared by the dialogue partners and external parties.

The IAI was launched at the 2000 ASEAN Summit with the objectives of bridging the development gap and fostering economic integration in the newer members of ASEAN including Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.-VNA