ASEAN senior officials reviewed draft statements on sustainable development and climate change for the 16th ASEAN Summit, which is to take place in Hanoi on April 8 and 9.

Tran Ngoc An, a spokesperson for the 16th ASEAN Summit, announced this at a press briefing giving details on the results of preparatory meetings for the ASEAN Summit in Hanoi on April 6.

These preparatory meetings include the ASEAN Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM), the ASEAN Senior Economic Officials’ Meeting (SEOM), and the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (SOCA) Meeting.

Regarding the SEOM, Le Quang Lan, chief of Vietnam ’s ASEAN SEOM group said the officials have examined the process of implementing the Blueprint toward the formation of the ASEAN Economic Community as laid out in the master plan on building the ASEAN Community in 2015.

The examination aimed to re-evaluate ASEAN’s capacity in realizing its commitments in the Blueprint, said Lan, who is also Deputy Head of the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Multi-trade Policy Department.

“We realize that ASEAN’s implementation of the commitments to which it has pledged has achieved positive outcomes. Specifically, more than 75 percent of the number of adopted measures have been completed as planned,” Lan noted.

He affirmed that agreements on investment and on commodities and services are undergoing final review before coming into force within this year.

The participants at SEOM also debated ASEAN’s orientations in the context that the global economy is overcoming crisis and advancing toward sustainable development.

They also touched upon ways to accelerate the implementation of FTAs with China, the Republic of Korea, Australia, New Zealand, India and the US.

According to Ramon Vicente T. Kabigting, the Philippine Assistant Secretary of Trade and Industry on the issue of building the ASEAN Economic Community, narrowing the development gap between the group’s members is considered an important component.

“Accordingly, we continue with the support programme the developed countries have adopted for new member countries,” the Philippine official said.

At the SOCA meeting, delegates agreed on priorities during the year Vietnam holds the ASEAN Chair, such as responding to global challenges, developing human resources in service of economic recovery, boosting social welfare and advancement for women and children, and bolstering cultural cooperation to enhance public awareness in building the ASEAN Community.

Nheun Chosetra, Head of the Gender Equality Department of the Women’s Ministry of Cambodia, said the building of the ASEAN cultural community will bring more benefits, not only in cultural exchange but also in other fields, for ASEAN people.

She expressed her hope that following the preparatory meetings, the goal of building the ASEAN cultural community will be realized.

The ASEAN Community, based on three pillars--politics-security, economy, and socio-culture--will come into being in 2015.

The ASEAN Political-Security Community aims to create a peaceful and secure environment for the Southeast Asian region to develop through boosting ASEAN’s political and security cooperation to a new height, assisted by the participation and contributions of outside partners.

The ASEAN Economic Community eyes the goal of creating a single market and a uniform production establishment that will facilitate the free circulation of goods, services, investment, and labour capital, to raise competitiveness and spur prosperity in the entire South East Asian region so that it can attract more outside investment.

With the general aim of servicing and improving the quality of ASEAN people’s life, the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community will concentrate on addressing the issues related to social equality and justice, cultural identities, environment, the impacts of globalization and the technological revolution./.