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ASEAN, OECD enhance investment co-op

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JAKARTA, Nov. 20 (Xinhua) -- The Association of Southeast Asia Nations (ASEAN) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) have been enhancing investment cooperation in which ASEAN keeps promoting and facilitating investment inflows.

Efforts to increase and sustain the inflows of foreign investments and adjustments to the investment policies in ASEAN, among others, have been initiated to keep ASEAN as an attractive region for investments in-line with a goal of making ASEAN a region that allows for the free flow of investments under the ASEAN Economic Community.

To further promote and facilitate investment inflows and to create a favorable environment for investors in the region, ASEAN has been engaging with its dialogue partners through the signing of free trade area agreements, said Sundram Pushpanathan, deputy secretary-general of ASEAN for ASEAN Economic Community, at the ASEAN-OECD Investment Policy Conference on Nov. 18-19.

The UNCTAD 2010 World Investment Report shows that the developing countries attracted half of the global foreign direct investment in 2009 and remain a favorable destination for FDI inflows in the years to come, given the growth expectations for ASEAN.

ASEAN's share of total global foreign direct investment inflows increased to 3.6 percent in 2009, from 2.8 percent in 2008, despite the economic downturn.

This optimistic outlook for ASEAN is also shared by the UNCTAD' s 2010 World Investment Report which estimates that there will be an increase of global foreign direct investment (FDI) flows at 1.2 trillion U.S. dollars in 2010 and at 1.3-1.5 trillion U.S. dollars in 2011.

The report also lists four ASEAN economies among the top economies to host foreign direct investment inflows for the period 2010-2012.

Pushpanathan said that in the area of investments, ASEAN and OECD have organized two regional forums to strengthen cooperation between the two organizations.

The 1st OECD-Southeast Asia Regional Forum on "Peer Review Mechanism for Policy Reform" was organized in January 2007 in Indonesia.

The second OECD-Southeast Asian Regional Forum on "Enhancing Competitiveness through Regional Integration" was organized in April 2009 in Bangkok, Thailand, which resulted in further engagement, including this investment policy conference.

Other joint-activities include "ASEAN Special Dialogues with the OECD" which was just concluded in October 2010 in Paris, where ASEAN introduced the ASEAN Comprehensive Investment Agreement to the members of the OECD Investment Committee.

In the meantime, investors from the OECD countries have been showing increasing interests in ASEAN as the destination to invest.

The latest statistics shows that although FDI flows from the OECD economies into ASEAN fell by 19 percent from 23 billion U.S. dollars in 2008 to 18.7 billion U.S. dollars in 2009, the share of OECD countries of the total FDI inflows to ASEAN remained consistently significant at about 47 percent for both 2008 and 2009.

Mario Amano, deputy secretary-general of OECD, said that companies from OECD member countries have poured over 330 billion U.S. dollars into ASEAN economies.

He said ASEAN countries have not lagged far behind China in term of direct investment growth. Given the size of their economies, in the last decade countries like Thailand and Malaysia have fared almost as well as China.

And, he said, more recently, Vietnam has emerged as an important destination for international investment.

"The United Nations figures for FDI into the whole of South, East and South-East Asia show inflows up six-fold from 46 billion U.S. dollars in 1993 to 282 billion U.S. dollars in 2008, before leveling off in 2009. Much of this success belongs to China with over the past three years inflows averaged almost 88 billion U.S. dollars per year," he said.

According to Amano, effective policies require a better understanding of the different patterns of investment flows into South and Southeast Asia from different parts of OECD.

"I am convinced that this is the right place at the right time to deepen our collaboration to achieve common goals. Our organization has much to offer the countries of the region," he said.

The OECD would like to use its accumulated experience, know-how and various forums to collaborate with Indonesia and other Asian countries in achieving such economic goals, said Amano.

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