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Asean working on European Union like free trade bloc

Leaders of East Asian countries have laid the groundwork for a European Union-style bloc that will cover half the world’s population, analysts and officials say. Discussions on the grand project began during the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) summit.

Boris Sullivan

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Leaders of East Asian countries have laid the groundwork for a European Union-style bloc that will cover half the world’s population, analysts and officials say. Discussions on the grand project began during the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) summit.

Rodolfo Severino, Asean’s former secretary-general, told the AFP news agency: “It is coming together.”

The proposal for the so-called East Asian Community project was mooted by Yukio Hatoyama, the Japanese prime minister, to fellow leaders at the summit, saying the region should aspire to “lead the world”.

Japan is not a member of Asean, but if the project materialises, it – along with South Korea, China, India, Australia and New Zealand – would be part of Asean, which includes Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam.

Other Asean member states are Brunei Darussalam, Burma, Cambodia, the Philippines and Cambodia.

“It’s not just Asia coming together economically but politically as well. The more integrated you are, the more forceful you are”

Head of the Singapore-based Asean Studies Centre

Severino said a more cohesive Asia would have a bigger role in global affairs, especially after the region overcame the global economic crisis more quickly than the West.

“It’s not just Asia coming together economically but politically as well. The more integrated you are, the more forceful you are,” Severino said.

He currently heads the Singapore-based Asean Studies Centre.

A key issue raised during the East Asia summit and during the dialogue with China, Japan and South Korea is the formation of an East Asian community. Leaders feel this is work-in-progress.

Both the Japanese and Australian Prime Ministers talked about such a community during their discussions with ASEAN and the dialogue partners, but leaders said they did not present definitive blueprints.

Mr Lee said:

“What they have is a vision and an idea of some long term desired objective, but the specific shape of what is to be developed, who to participate, what its mandate is going to be and how fits into the existing structures and organisations… those are things we have to think about and explore and gradually become more definite and clearer as our cooperation develops.”

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Asean

Singapore’s Resilience Package: Support for Businesses and Jobs in 2021

The maximum loan quantum for domestic projects is S$30 million (US$22.7 million) and the government’s risk-share of loans is up to 70 percent.

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Singapore’s Resilience Package: Support for Businesses and Jobs in 2021

On February 16, 2021, Singapore’s government announced its 2021 national budget where it allocated S$11 billion (US$8.3 billion) for a new fiscal package, named the COVID-19 Resilience Package, which extends existing schemes to help businesses and save jobs by subsidizing wages of workers, providing access to working capital for businesses, and supporting targeted industries like aviation.

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United States

US pledges to enhance cooperation with Mekong subregion’s countries

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The US will bolster support for countries in the Mekong subregion through the Mekong-US partnership, US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs Atul Keshap said at a recent online seminar to reveal results of a report on transboundary rivers and addressing challenges in Mekong River.

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Asean

ASEAN, Canada, UN Women launch 5-year programme to advance Women, Peace and Security Agenda

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Joint Press Release ASEAN, Canada, UN Women jointly launch 5-year programme to advance Women, Peace and Security Agenda
Jakarta/Ottawa/New York, 24 February 2021 – The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Canada and UN Women jointly launched today a five-year programme to expand and strengthen women’s leadership and participation in conflict prevention, resolution and recovery in South-East Asia.

The CAD 8.5 million (US $6.36 million) programme, “Empowering women for sustainable peace: preventing violence and promoting social cohesion in ASEAN”, is funded by Global Affairs Canada to support ASEAN and the implementation of the ASEAN-Canada Plan of Action 2021-2025, with the support of UN Women as a lead UN partner.

“Canada is proud to launch this flagship initiative that uses the women, peace and security approach to promote inclusive and sustainable peace and security in the region, while addressing the systemic gender inequality,” said Diedrah Kelly, Canada’s Ambassador to ASEAN.

ASEAN has made important strides to advance women, peace and security agenda, including the adoption of the first ‘Joint Statement on Promoting Women, Peace and Security in ASEAN’ in 2017, the launch of the ASEAN Women’s Peace Registry in 2018, and convening the first ASEAN Symposium on Women, Peace and Security in 2019 and the ASEAN Ministerial Dialogue on Strengthening Women’s role for Sustainable Peace and Security in 2020.

Secretary-General of ASEAN Dato Lim Jock Hoi said, “ASEAN is working concertedly to advance women, peace and security agenda across the three ASEAN Community Pillars as part of our commitment to promote gender equality and the roles of women in the implementation of the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework.”

The COVID-19 impact has increased the risks for women and girls in fragile and conflict-affected contexts and this challenges us to re-examine threats to human security. “The pandemic highlights the important linkage between peace, humanitarian and development and the critical need for women’s leadership and participation to ensure effective and comprehensive response, from policy decision-making to peace building and pandemic response,” said Jamshed Kazi, UN Women Representative and Liaison to ASEAN.

The new programme reflects the commitment of ASEAN and Canada to promote gender equality and to respond to an increasingly widespread calls across the globe for women to be empowered to lead and participate in peace and development.

ASEAN includes Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Viet Nam.

For more information, please contact:
Montira Narkvichien
Regional Communications Specialist
UN Women Asia and the Pacific
Tel: +66 2 288 1579 | Mobile: +66 81 6688900 | Email: [email protected]

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