Jose Tavares, General Director for ASEAN Cooperation at Indonesia’s Foreign Ministry and head of Indonesia’s SOM ASEAN, speaks at the meeting on December 11 (Photo: VNA)

Jakarta (VNA) – Indonesia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs held a meeting on December 11 with diplomats; the ASEAN Secretariat; ambassadors and representatives of permanent delegations at the ASEAN, as well as from ASEAN agencies to update them of the association’s progress as it takes new steps towards a sustainable and people-oriented ASEAN community.

Addressing the event, Jose Tavares, General Director for ASEAN Cooperation at Indonesia’s Foreign Ministry and head of Indonesia’s SOM ASEAN, reaffirmed that as a former conflict area, the ASEAN has developed into a region with peace, stability and prosperity.

Reviewing the ASEAN’s important progress in 2018, Tavares underlined that ASEAN countries have shown close coordination in politics, security, economy, and culture-society.

He clarified that throughout this year, Singapore, as the ASEAN Chair, has given various ideas to promote ASEAN growth, adding that this year also marks the introduction of the idea on the setting up of ASEAN smart cities to push the bloc forward.

ASEAN is now the sixth largest economy in the world. In the 25 years following 1990, the region’s poverty ratio fell from 47 percent to 14 percent, he noted.

Currently, many regional economies have grown stably despite challenges such as the US-China trade tension and pressure from newly-emerged economies.

In 2018, ASEAN member countries and six partners have succeeded in forming the world’s largest free trade area amidst many obstacles facing trade globalisation and facilitation.

At the 33rd ASEAN Summit in Singapore and other meetings in 2018, the majority of development-related issues were discussed, showing the joint efforts of countries involved towards the target of boosting the bloc’s future growth. –VNA