EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström visited Manila recently to discuss trade with ASEAN Economic Ministers. The summit was a milestone in itself as the Ministers discussed the next steps toward the resumption of the ASEAN-EU Free Trade Agreement negotiations as well as ways to enhance economic cooperation in addressing emerging challenges and capitalizing on opportunities for trade and investment between the two regions. The possibility of establishing a multilateral investment court that may serve as a single global judicial instance for resolving investment-related disputes was also raised. ASEAN and the EU are doing remarkably well and are economically and politically stable havens in today’s world where traditional ways are increasingly being challenged.
Despite external headwinds, the Philippines is expected to grow the fastest among ASEAN economies until next year on the back of robust domestic demand and strong services exports, Standard Chartered Bank said on November 24. “The Philippines’ domestic growth engine is firing on all cylinders, even as headwinds from slower global demand persist. We expect the Philippines to be the fastest growing ASEAN economy in the near term, recording strong growth of 6.8 percent in 2016 and 6.7 percent in 2017,” Standard Chartered economist for Asia Chidu Narayanan said in a statement. The gross domestic product grew 7.1 percent in the third quarter—the fastest among emerging Asian economies, bringing the nine-month average to 7 percent. The government targets a GDP growth of 6-7 percent this year and 6.5-7.5 percent next year.
ASEAN, now on its first year of economic unification, needs to decouple from China and become much better at telling the global community about its economic prospects, Citi’s regional fund services experts said. In the past, ASEAN had benefited from its robust trade with China, with Chinese consumption driving commodities growth in the region, boosting the exports of Indonesia and Malaysia. But when the Chinese currency depreciated and the US dollar strengthened, many Southeast Asian currencies were also adversely affected. In ASEAN, Bryan Murphy, securities services cluster head for ASEAN, said the framework had been driven by governments of member-states without any referendum among the people of each territory. As a result, he said there had yet to be a popular demand for such an integration process.