Jakarta. Southeast Asia has done well to maintain stability and security within its own region amid challenging geopolitical situation, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Thursday (12/05) at the World Economic Forum in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
"Over the past five decades, Asean [Association of Southeast Asia Nation] has undergone a complex transformation. From a region with only two blocks, wreaked by conflicts, misery and poverty to a region of peace, stability, development and a closely integrated community. To top it all off, we've also had high economic growth," Hun Sen said during WEF's opening session.
Its biggest achievement, in comparison to many regions in the world now, Asean has managed to maintain strong peace and security through good cooperation, the PM said.
He said while some [countries] in the world are experiencing major setback, Asean is forging ahead with building an integrated economy based on political, security, economic and sociocultural communities.
Hun Sen pointed out that recent geopolitical, geoeconomic and social development, such as rising anti-globalization movement, protectionism and rising nationalism, combined with worldwide economic slowdown have created many new challenges for countries and regions.
Asean, a regional organization of 10 different countries, is building a community based on mutual respect. It prohibits interference in individual country's internal affairs and relies on consensual decision-making. That is the greatest strength of Asean, he added.
"We need to continue our agenda, strengthening cooperation to ensure peace and stability by promoting a dialogue, building trust by resolving regional issues based on the principle of international law and continue to ensure economic growth and reduce development gap," Hun Sen said.
According to Asean data, the association's 10 member countries had a combined GDP of $2.4 trillion in 2015. That is expected to increased to $2.5 trillion in 2016.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said Asean now has the third largest labor force in the world and along with its relatively young population, the region has a trick up its sleeve when it comes to demographics.
Asean, especially Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam have a significant number of young people, behind only China and India. According to Asean data, the total population of young people between the age of 15 to 29 in its member countries had risen to 161.12 million people in 2015.
"If we want to promote a greater sense of community's inclusiveness and competitiveness, we must focus on sustainable infrastructure, digital innovation, seamless logistics, regulatory excellence, people mobility and invest in human capital," Duterte said.