Towards an ASEAN Economic Community (AEC): 2015

Asean began as a political group 52 years ago. It has evolved since then, embracing the 3 pillars today (1) political-security (2) economic and (3) social-cultural.

Learning from the 1997/98 financial crisis, it highlighted the necessity for closer economic collaboration to protect mutual national interests. This is reinforced by the recent rise of China and India, strengthening Asean’s determination to create a stronger and more cohesive community.

The 1997 Asean Summit in Kuala Lumpur brought this into sharper focus with the Asean 2020 Vision Declaration to transform the region into a stable, integrated and competitive region.

In 2003, the Bali Summit committed the group to accelerate the establishment of the AEC from 2020 to 2015. Since then, the 2007 AEC Blueprint sets out clear timelines for Asean members to strive towards an integrated economic community by 2015 with: (1) a single market and production base (2) a competitive economic region (3) an equitable and inclusive economic development and (4) a region integrated into the global economy.

This will finally revolve around (1) a core Asean centre (2) an inclusive Asean (3) an efficient and transparent operational framework (4) harmonised rules and regulations and (5) a strong linkage to the global supply and value chains. These characteristics are inter-related and mutually reinforcing.

At the heart of AEC is the overarching objective to promote the free flow of goods, services, investment and skilled labour; the free flow of capital; and the free and open integration of clearly identified priority sectors as well as in food, agriculture and forestry.

To deepen market integration there are clear commitments to formulate milestones under the Roadmap to Monetary and Financial Integration as well as the "setting-up" of the US$485mil Asean Infrastructure Fund Ltd to facilitate sustained economic growth and address poverty alleviation in the region.

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