25 Sep '11, 1am

Southeast Asia sets up fund in integration step

WASHINGTON: Southeast Asian nations launched a nearly $500 million fund Saturday to build infrastructure, pooling resources in hopes of closing the gap between the dynamic region and major wealthy economies. In a step toward an ambitious goal of regional economic integration by 2015, finance ministers of the ASEAN bloc said the fund would offer loans to build roads, railways and other projects without direct foreign assistance. "Our community is now being built with speed. This is a milestone," ASEAN Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan said after ministers signed the pact in Washington on the sidelines of annual World Bank and IMF meetings. "The time for donations, the time for just gifts, is over. We have to be very innovative, we have to be very collaborative in our approach." Despite booming growth rates and world-famous buildings, ASEAN on a per capita basis lags behind m...

Full article: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/afp_asiapacific_bu...

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