Southeast Asia is on the front line of efforts to fight the global economic crisis and will be "greatly tested" in coming months, the Thai finance minister said Thursday ahead of a key summit.
Korn Chatikavanij told counterparts from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) gathered in the Thai beach resort of Pattaya that the region of 560 million people must show its strengths as a community.
"ASEAN is now at the frontier of an economic battle and recovery. We, as a rising regional grouping, will be greatly tested," he told fellow ministers meeting a day before 15 Asian heads of state arrive here for talks.
"As the financial crisis deepens, the world will look toward our region for action and confidence. Therefore we must show our capacity and true strengths of ASEAN as a community," Korn said.
The 10-member Southeast Asian grouping has suffered badly from a collapse in exports to major trading partners such as the United States, Europe and Japan as the world economy slows.
ASEAN leaders will meet their counterparts from China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand at the weekend in Pattaya for talks expected to focus on their response to a G20 plan to lift the world out of recession.
The Group of 20 developed and emerging economies agreed at a key meeting in London last week to commit one trillion dollars to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and other global bodies.
The Pattaya summit will be followed by a so-called Global Dialogue in Bangkok on Sunday featuring United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the chiefs of the IMF, World Bank and World Trade Organisation.