Leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) hold hands for a family photo during the opening ceremony of the 30th ASEAN Summit at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City, the Philippines, April 29, 2017. (Xinhua/POOL)
MANILA, April 30 (Xinhua) -- The 30th summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has concluded here which started Saturday, with a chairman's statement on further strengthening ASEAN's integration process and making the regional body a global player.
Guided by the theme of "Partnering for Change, Engaging the World", the leaders from ASEAN gathered in Manila to reaffirm their aspiration for an ASEAN that works to effect positive change in the lives of the peoples, said Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte at the opening of the summit.
During the summit, the leaders exchanged views on pressing regional and international issues, including building people-oriented and people-centered ASEAN, maintaining a peaceful and stable region, advancing inclusive and innovative-led growth, promoting ASEAN's resiliency, and promoting ASEAN as a model for regional integration and a global player.
The leaders welcomed the progress made in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations during their summit, saying the giant free trade pact will boost global trade.
"We emphasized that the sluggish economic environment and trends towards protection increases the need to achieve a modern, comprehensive, high quality and mutually beneficial RCEP Agreement, which has the potential to boost global economic growth, deepen regional economic integration and facilitate equitable economic development for all RCEP participating countries," the leaders said in statement issued by President Duterte at the end of the summit.
In the document, the leaders reaffirmed their commitment to assisting Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam in meeting their region-wide targets, with a view to realizing regional integration and advancing sustainable development.
According to the statement, ASEAN's combined GDP stood at 2.55 trillion U.S. dollars in 2016 with a robust year-on-year GDP growth rate of 4.7 percent despite the challenging global environment. Growth in the region's economy is expected to accelerate to 4.8 percent in 2017 supported by solid growth of private consumption and investment as well as expansionary fiscal policy.
Meanwhile, ASEAN's merchandise trade remained resilient at 1.06 trillion dollars in the first half of 2016. ASEAN also attracted a total of 52.94 billion dollars foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows in the first half of 2016.
The ASEAN leaders reaffirmed their commitment that the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development will be implemented in a mutually-reinforcing manner to build a truly inclusive and people-oriented, people-centered ASEAN Community.
In the chairman's statement, ASEAN leaders expressed grave concern over recent developments on the Korean Peninsula, including the Democratic People's Republic of Korea's (DPRK) two nuclear tests in 2016 and subsequent ballistic missile launches.
ASEAN leaders called on the DPRK to immediately comply fully with its obligations arising from all relevant United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions and stressed the importance of exercising self-restraint in the interest of maintaining peace, security and stability in the region and the world.
The leaders reiterated their full support for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and for concerned parties to explore all avenues for immediate dialogue.
In the statement, the leaders welcomed the operationalization of the Guidelines for Hotline Communications among Senior Officials of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of ASEAN Member States and China in Response to Maritime Emergencies.
The document said ASEAN leaders took note of the improving cooperation between ASEAN and China, and welcomed the progress to complete a framework of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC) by mid-2017 in order to facilitate the early conclusion of an effective COC.
ASEAN, which groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, was established 50 years ago. The regional body is to commemorate the Grand Celebration of ASEAN's Golden Anniversary on Aug. 8 this year.