BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, Oct. 9 (Xinhua) -- The 23rd Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit kicked off here Wednesday morning, bringing together leaders from 10 ASEAN member states.
Themed "Our People, Our Future Together," the summit will review the progress towards the realization of the ASEAN Community by 2015 and discuss ways to consolidate the achievements in order to meet the 2015 target of having an economically integrated, politically cohesive and socially responsible ASEAN Community.
Bruneian Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah said in his opening remarks that the outlook for the ASEAN region remains promising, while acknowledging the ASEAN members still face challenges in implementing their community roadmap.
"The ASEAN countries should ensure the region's financial stability as well as be an effective and competitive destination for trade and investment," he said.
ASEAN has only two more years to become a European Union-like community but has been struggling to align key infrastructure, trade and policy frameworks to meet the deadline.
The sultan also called for the ASEAN countries to work together in areas such as trade facilitation and logistics to promote business environment in the region.
He added there has been some progress and overall, the ASEAN countries have to continue to solidify their political will in doing what they can do to realize their community goal by 2015.
According to the sultan, ASEAN aims to double the bloc's combined GDP to 4.4 trillion U.S. dollars and reduce the population who live in poverty to 9.3 percent by 2030, adding that they will improve their working procedures through a review of their institutions and external relations.
At the summit and related meetings, the ASEAN leaders will meet with their counterparts and leaders of ASEAN's dialogue partners to discuss wide-ranging cooperation in the political-security, economic and socio-cultural spheres.
A Chairman's Statement is expected to be adopted as the outcome of the 23rd ASEAN Summit.
The summit will also see the handover of ASEAN chairmanship to Myanmar, who will assume leadership of the regional bloc for the first time on Jan. 1, 2014.
Formed in 1967, ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.