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Asian integration best engine for regional growth

2014-04-11 09:38 Xinhua Web Editor: qindexing

Compared with three percent world economic growth and only one percent in three leading developed economies, Asia's growth last year at 6.1 percent was a seemingly unattainable feat.

As shown by past experience, Asian economic integration and strengthened cooperation serve as the most reliable engine for sustained growth in the region.[Special coverage]

With galloping growth in recent years, Asia stands as one of the most dynamic regions in the world. It produces a third of global GDP, boasts a population of over 4 billion and ample labor supply, and has tremendous growth potential yet to be unleashed.

A report released last week by the Asian Development Bank raised its forecast for Asian growth slightly up to 6.2 percent for this year and to 6.4 percent next year against the backdrop of positive factors for growth, including expected stronger demand from developed nations.

The brisk growth also has a strong bearing on the increasingly close economic and trade ties between Asian nations. As economic integration strengthens, no single nation in the area can grow and prosper in isolation.

Asian integration has continued to move forward in spite of lackluster recovery around the globe. A report released by the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) shows Asia's self-dependence in trade increased to a historic high of 59.49 percent in 2012.

The number showcases the closer interrelations between Asian countries and helps us understand integration's vital role in sustaining growth.

The BFA, a platform for government, business and academic leaders in Asia and elsewhere to share opinions on pressing issues in the region and the world, has been a major contributor to Asia's economic integration in the past decade.

Since its establishment in 2001, it has committed to promoting regional economic integration and bringing Asian countries closer to their development goals.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said Thursday when addressing the forum's opening ceremony that regional economic integration is in the mutual interests of all Asian nations.

"We need to work in unison to promote trade liberalization, investment facilitation and upgrade regional and sub-regional cooperation," Li said.

Ample room still exists for the region to further deepen economic ties and enrich trade arrangements to unleash new growth momentum and raise the competitiveness of the continent.

The negotiation on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) has the participation of more countries than any other free trade agreement in the region. It is a promising platform for boosting regional trade liberalization as it suits the area's industrial structure, economic model and social tradition.

Li has suggested the launch of a feasibility study on a Free Trade Area for the Asia-Pacific region to maximize benefits from trade and investment in the region.

China's initiatives to develop the Silk Road economic belt and a maritime Silk Road of the 21st century, both proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping, will also start a new chapter for integrated destinies in Asia.

Cooperation brings mutual benefits, whereas confrontation always hurts.

Asian nations should take more concrete actions and demonstrate greater political will in pursuing a mutually beneficial path to remain a powerhouse for world growth.

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