SINGAPORE, May 10 — ASEAN must press on with its regional integration efforts as the global environment is increasingly troubled, though the world has come through the COVID-19 pandemic, said Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
In his intervention at the 42nd ASEAN Summit plenary session, Lee offered three suggestions with one of them being ASEAN should deepen its economic collaboration and expand into new growth areas, such as the digital and green economies.
Lee noted that economic integration has long been ASEAN’s priority and must always remain so as it also underpins ASEAN Centrality.
“We need to update and upgrade our core Agreements such as the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement (ATIGA), to keep them relevant to evolving business practices,” he said in his intervention speech made available to the media here, Wednesday.
On the digital economy, Lee said Singapore strongly “supports Indonesia’s efforts to develop the ASEAN Digital Economy Framework Agreement (DEFA) and welcomes the proposed Leaders’ Statement to Develop the ASEAN DEFA targeted to be issued later this year.”
“We can reap tremendous economic gains by improving the digital connectivity and literacy of our peoples,” he said.
On the green economy, the prime minister said the republic supports the strengthening of energy interconnectivity under Indonesia’s Chairmanship.
Lee said the success of the Laos-Thailand-Malaysia-Singapore Power Integration Project “shows that multilateral power trading in the region is feasible.”
“We should build on this and work towards an ASEAN Power Grid, which will strengthen Member States’ energy security and resilience, and advance regional decarbonization,” he said.
Lee is currently leading the Singapore delegation to the Summit until May 11, 2023 in Labuan Bajo, Indonesia.
In the intervention, Lee also welcomed Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Prime Minister of Laos Sonexay Siphandone and ASEAN Secretary-General Dr Kao Kim Hourn to their first Summit in their current capacities.