The ASEAN economy, if considered as a single entity, is set to be the fourth largest economy in the world by 2050 based on the region’s current rate of economic growth, according to Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Abdul.
Najib said it would be the seventh largest in the world now if ASEAN were seen as one economy, with its combined gross domestic product in 2014 at US$2.5 trillion and US$2.4 trillion in 2013.
“The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) predicts overall annual growth of 5.6 per cent over the next four years. If current trends continue, ASEAN is set to be the world’s fourth largest economy by 2050,” he said during a speech at the ASEAN Business Awards Malaysia (ABAM).
The prime minister said that ASEAN is now in the process of building on a strong and consistent record of development and mutual growth.
In terms of per capita income growth, the prime minister said that ASEAN has outpaced the rest of the world by a considerable amount since the late 1970s.
Najib highlighted a McKinsey report that showed that the number of consumer households earning over US$7,500 a year will double to 125 million in the next decade.
“And with a population over 600 million; larger than either the European Union or North America, our potential market is huge. So the work of integrating our 10 nations into an Economic Community is crucial,” stressed Najib.
Najib said ASEAN’s integration goes beyond preferential trade partnerships, focusing on strategies to achieve a single market that is competitive, fair and inclusive.
ASEAN Economy To Benefit from Union
The ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) is set to come into affect at the end of 2015, which will turn Southeast Asia into a single economic region that will in many ways, be similar to the EU. This is expected to create massive opportunities for Southeast Asia and its investors.
“Our focus on free trade, fair taxation and transparency is combined with measures to create an open and welcoming economy at home; one that attracts investment, growth, and jobs.”
“It’s also an ASEAN approach that to achieve sustainable development, it’s essential that the well-being, welfare and livelihood of its people are enhanced,” explained Najib.
He said Malaysia’s success had been recognized, as attested in the World Competitiveness Yearbook 2014, which ranked Malaysia in 12th place out of 60 economies, and his country expects to move even higher up the list.
Najib said there were signs of confidence in Malaysia, citing the demand for the US$1.5 billion global sukuk raised recently, which had been massively oversubscribed. He further said that earlier this year, Fortune Magazine listed Malaysia as one of the seven new best emerging markets.
Najib said there was international recognition that in a world in which many countries are facing economic challenges, the fundamentals of the Malaysian economy remained strong.
“This is heartening, for we know that bold steps such as the elimination of fuel subsidies or the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax are not always the most popular but they are necessary,” said Najib, referring to a policy that his government recently passed.
“This is for the long-term benefit of all Malaysians and that’s what will always be the top priority for my government,” he added.