(Xinhua) -- Increased integration into the global economy has made the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region a more accessible market for trading goods than either the European Union or the United States， according to a report published Wednesday by the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation.
Global Enabling Trade Report 2016 features the enabling trade index (ETI)， which assesses the performance of 136 economies on domestic and foreign market access， border administration， transport and digital infrastructure， transport services， and operating environment.
The report said that ASEAN's progress as an economic power comes at a time when the United States and the European Union are becoming less open， adding that ASEAN's progress in other areas measured by the index is less pronounced.
As a result， the best economies for enabling trade tend to be in northern and western Europe， with the notable exception of Singapore and China's Hong Kong， in first and third places， respectively.
"Free trade remains the most powerful driver of global economic development and social progress. The challenge for leaders today is to confront protectionism but they also have a duty to make trade a source for more inclusive growth，" said Klaus Schwab， founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum.
Produced every two years， the Global Enabling Trade Report assesses the extent to which economies have in place the factors facilitating the free flow of goods over borders and to their destination.
TOKYO , Dec. 21 (Xinhua) -- Japan's central bank chief Haruhiko Kuroda said Thursday that the recent surge in the price of bitcoin is "abnormal."
The Bank of Japan Governor made the remarks at a press conference following the central bank's two-day policy meeting.
In Japan, the price of the bitcoin topped 2 million yen (17,640 U.S. dollars) earlier this month on a major exchange, registering a 20-fold jump since January when it changed hands around 100,000 yen (882 U.S. dollars).
"It's not my place to say , but if you look at the charts, it's clear that the jump (in prices) is abnormal," Kuroda reportedly said.
He also said that bitcoin, unlike conventional currencies, is not controlled by a central bank or government and "does not have the same function as currency as a means of payment or settlement."
Bitcoin is "being traded for investment or speculative purposes ," he said.
Bitcoin is a major digital currency without ties to any bank or government. It is underpinned by blockchain technology, a digital ledger system that uses cryptography.
Credibility of the virtual currency has been a concern to many people, especially after the sudden shutdown in 2014 of the Japanese bitcoin exchange MtGox Co..
The virtual currency has also raised controversy over its potential use for money laundering and capital flight, as it allows users to spend and transfer money anonymously.
Police said last month that 170 cases of suspected money laundering linked to cryptocurrency included bitcoin were reported in Japan from April through September.
Japan revised its law last year to regulate the dealings of virtual currencies including bitcoin, so as to prevent their use in terrorism or money laundering and protect the interests of the owners.
According to the revised law , virtual currencies could be used for settlement. But exchanges dealing virtual currencies shall be registered with the Financial Services Agency.
Free-agent forward Gordon Hayward has waived goodbye to Utah, announcing that he will sign with the Boston Celtics. Jeff SwingerUSA TODAY Sports
Gordon Hayward, the prize of this summer's free-agent class, announced Tuesday that he's going to play for the Celtics, choosing their maximum-contract offer over those from the Utah Jazz , his team since 2010, and the Miami Heat.
The 6-foot-8 small forward has agreed to a four-year, $128 million deal, according to sources. The deal also includes a player option for the final year, sources said , which would allow Hayward to return to free agency with 10 years of NBA service when he could pursue another big-money contract and command a starting salary at 35 percent of the salary cap.
He shared his decision in an article on The Players' Tribune titled "Thank You, Utah."
The 27-year-old Hayward stressed in the 2,000-word article that his comfort and familiarity with his former college coach, Brad Stevens, was a deciding factor in his joining the Celtics. Stevens took over for the Celtics before the 2013-14 season and last season led Boston to 53 wins , the top seed in the Eastern Conference and a conference finals matchup with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
In his second and final year at Butler, Hayward led the Bulldogs to the national championship game, which Butler lost as Hayward's buzzer-beating 3-point attempt failed to go in.
"And that unfinished business [Stevens and Hayward] had together, back in 2010, when I left Butler for the NBA ," Hayward wrote, "... as far as I'm concerned, all of these years later, we still have it.
"And that's to win a championship."
In the article, Hayward also addressed reports from earlier in the day Tuesday that stated that he was headed to Boston.
"What's crazy is -- before I even had a chance to make my decision , before I had a chance to sit down and write this, and before I even had a chance to talk about it with the people I love -- I was already reading reports about where I was going," Hayward said. "And I guess that's just the way things work, in 2017. But I'm sorry it had to work out like that."
Free-agent forward Gordon Hayward has waived goodbye to Utah, announcing that he will sign with the Boston Celtics. Jeff SwingerUSA TODAY Sports.