Supported by the EU, ASEAN creates a breakthrough in harmonising the region’s statistics monitoring progress towards MDGs
The progress made by the ASEAN Community Statistical System Committee and ASEANstats – the ASEAN Secretariat Division in charge of the collection, production, and dissemination of regional statistics – over the last four years of cooperation with the European Union (EU) is highlighted at a closing conference of the EU-funded EU-ASEAN Statistical Capacity Building (EASCAB) Programme taking place in the Dharmawangsa Hotel on Tuesday, 27th November.
The event brings together ASEAN ambassadors, Heads of the National Statistical Offices of the ASEAN Member States, and representatives of line ministries, central banks and customs departments. It features key note speeches from H.E. Dr Surin Pitsuwan, Secretary-General of ASEAN, and Mr Colin Crooks, Deputy Head of Delegation, European Union Delegation to Indonesia, Brunei Darussalam and ASEAN.
The ASEAN Community needs reliable and timely statistical data that are comparable across all ten ASEAN Member States to help formulate regional policy and monitor integration in the region and the world. This is also essential for governments, businesses, academics, and civil society groups to improve decision-making.
The EASCAB Programme assisted both ASEANstats and the national statistics offices of all ten ASEAN Member States to produce reliable and comparable statistical data through serious efforts to harmonise statistics for the trade in goods, trade in services, foreign direct investment, and other key sectors of development, including the publication of the first ever regional report on the status of ASEAN progress on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The EASCAB Programme also made possible the initial release of the 2012 ASEAN International Merchandise Trade Statistical Yearbook which is a comprehensive compilation of harmonised trade statistics for 2010-2011.
As the first regional programme of its kind, the EASCAB Programme supported the establishment of the ASEAN Community Statistical System (ACSS) Committee as the highest policy-making and coordinating body on statistical matters in the ASEAN region; the creation of a regional network of statisticians; harmonised collection and processing systems to produce more reliable and timely data; and the creation of an on-line database – the Regional Information Exchange Database System or REXDBS – to facilitate data collection, production and dissemination.
“ASEAN must monitor progress to ensure the region remains on track towards establishing the ASEAN Economic Community 2015. For this, we need timely, reliable and regionally comparative statistics. The EASCAB Programme, working with our ASEANstats department, has worked effectively to harmonise data collection and processing across the region in key, relevant statistical fields.” stated H.E Dr Surin Pitsuwan, Secretary General of ASEAN. Mr Colin Crooks noted that, “Data are now far more harmonised than before, collated more rapidly, and of much higher quality. But we recognise that together with ASEAN more needs to be done and for that reason, the European Union has agreed to support a second 4-year Programme to strengthen ASEAN integration, monitoring and statistics – with a budget of €7.5 million. The new programme is expected to start later in 2013.”
Mr Aladdin D. Rillo stated, “We benefited a lot from the EASCAB Programme. As one of the main users of statistics at ASEAN, my unit is responsible for the development of surveillance and monitoring reports that we submit every year to the finance and economic Ministers of all ASEAN Member States. I see improvement in terms of the timing and also the reliability of the data. For the first time, ASEANstats produces quarterly figures for the trade in goods, as well as annual reports for foreign direct investment and the trade in services. And all the data are available on-line.”
The EU-ASEAN Statistical Capacity Building Programme (EASCAB) is a four-year, €6-million programme to improve the collection, processing and dissemination of reliable statistics in the region. The programme closes in January 2013. Further information of the programme can be accessed at http://eascab.asean.org.
You can also access publically available statistical data via the Regional Information Exchange Database System (REXDBS) at the following address on-line: http://aseanstats.asean.org