Members of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) are only "tiny blips" on investors' radar screens compared to China and India, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said Wednesday.
Opening the 29th ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) session, Lee said the 10-member group has to struggle to get its share of investments, jobs and growth, dpa reported.
Through hosting the Beijing Olympic, China had shown the world the talents, energy and organizational prowess of its people, Lee said. "India's economy too has considerable dynamism, and is moving up in terms of skills and technology," he added.
ASEAN will become a single market and production base by 2015 as long as the organization adheres to its timetable, Lee said. "To stay in the game, ASEAN must become a strong and integrated region."
"Then collectively, we will form a bigger blip on the radar screens, and become a more attractive and worthwhile economic partner, whether for multinational corporations or other countries," Lee said.
He also stressed the importance of all member states ratifying the ASEAN Charter which will turn the group into a rule-based legal entity. It has been ratified by seven members so far.
Future stability cannot be taken for granted, Lee said, citing the problems stemming from the sub-prime mortgage crisis and the failure of the latest round of the Doha trade negotiations in Geneva.
He urged the parliamentarians "to stand firm against xenophobic attitudes, and to support policies which keep our economies open and integrated."
ASEAN comprises Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Brunei, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar.