Its chairman Datuk Yussof Mohammad said improved physical, institutional, and people-to-people linkages could facilitate the realisation of the three pillars upon which the establishment of the Asean Community is premised -- the Asean Political-Security Community, the Asean Economic Community and the Asean Socio-Cultural Community.
In the Asean Community, to be established by end-2015, all 10 members aim to achieve uniformity of rules and procedures and seamless physical, infrastructural and people-to-people connectivity.
The sub-regional economic cooperation BIMP-EAGA, which was formally launched on March 24, 1994 in Davao City, the Philippines, comprises the states of Sabah and Sarawak and the Federal Territory of Labuan; the entire sultanate of Brunei Darussalam; the provinces of Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Maluku, and West Papua in Indonesia; and Mindanao and Palawan in the Philippines.
The BIMP-EAGA initiative aims among others to accelerate economic development in the areas concerned, focusing on tourism, connectivity, agro-industry and trade and investment.
Yussof, who is also the Labuan Malaysian Malay Chamber of Commerce (DPMML) president, stressed that institutional connectivity consists of trade and investment liberalisation and facilitation, investment, mutual recognition arrangements and capacity-building programmes.
"We in BIMP-EAGA have made efforts towards strengthening trade, investment and supply chains within the Asean countries. We should now focus on promoting connectivity, a very positive approach to connecting economies in non-traditional ways," he said.
He said Asean leaders and members should come up with strategies to integrate countries and facilitate the movement of goods, people and information through policy and infrastructure initiatives to accelerate the realisation of the Asean Community.
"This is where Asean connectivity plays a vital part. Conducting business in Asean countries can be further eased by simplifying rules, investing in infrastructure and increasing connectivity.
"Asean is a very big region with more than 600 million people and plenty of natural and human resources, and it definitely has a comparative advantage in the eyes of investors," he said.
Asean is currently the seventh largest economy in the world with a combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of US$2.5 trillion.