The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN): 12 Things to Know | Asian Development Bank

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN): 12 Things to Know

Article | 8 November 2017

ASEAN Member States - Brunei Darussalam; Cambodia; Indonesia; Lao PDR; Malaysia; Myanmar; Philippines; Singapore; Thailand; Viet Nam

  1. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations was established in August 1967 with the signing of the ASEAN Declaration by Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. The original agreement was negotiated by foreign ministers in an isolated beach resort south of Bangkok using what was later called "sports-shirt diplomacy."
    Source: The History of ASEAN
  2. If ASEAN were one economy it would have combined gross domestic product of about $2.6 trillion, making it collectively the third largest economy in Asia and the seventh largest in the world.
    Source: Association of Southeast Asian Nations
  3. Next to the People's Republic of China and India, ASEAN has the world's third largest labor force and with over 600 million people, its potential market is larger than the European Union or North America.
    Source: ASEAN Integration and the Private Sector
  4. ASEAN established the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015 with the goal of allowing the free flow of goods, services, investments, and skilled labor, and the freer movement of capital across the region.
    Source: 24th ASEAN Summit. Nay Pyi Taw Declaration
  5. By opening sectors to competition and breaking down trade barriers, the new economic community potentially could lift ASEAN's economic output by 7 percent by 2025 and generate around 14 million new jobs.
    Source: ASEAN Community 2015: Managing Integration for Better Jobs and Shared Prosperity
  6. The ASEAN Infrastructure Fund, established in 2011, is helping member states finance their vast infrastructure needs estimated at over $1 trillion from 2010 to 2020. That includes investments to build and strengthen cross-border transport and power grid links, crucial for the goal of achieving a single ASEAN market and production base.
    Source: ASEAN Infrastructure Fund Brochure
  7. ASEAN’s greatest success to date with liberalization has been tariff reductions with 96% (on average) of member states’ tariff lines now at 0%, and the figure expected to reach 98.67% by 2018.
    Source: Will 2025 be the final deadline for the AEC?
  8. ASEAN member states voluntarily offer almost all their preferential tariff rates to non-members, resulting in more than 70% of intra-ASEAN trade traveling at a most-favored nation rate of 0%.
    Source: Will 2025 be the final deadline for the AEC?
  9. While there have been major achievements in tariff liberalization, other areas have yet to make similar headway, with ASEAN member states having more restrictive services policies than most other regions in the world. Progress on labor mobility has been slow with mutual recognition agreements on professional qualifications covering just 1.5% of ASEAN’s total workforce.
    Source: Will 2025 be the final deadline for the AEC?
  10. The ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint 2025 succeeds the initial AEC agreement, with a 10-year plan for implementation and further reforms. It aims to address difficult areas such as non-tariff barriers and trade in services.
    Source: Will 2025 be the final deadline for the AEC?
  11. To move the blueprint forward, ASEAN Economic Ministers adopted detailed action plans for each reform area in August 2016, and in February 2017 the ASEAN Economic Council endorsed a consolidated agreement, which includes timeframes for carrying out each action.
    Source: Will 2025 be the final deadline for the AEC?
  12. ASEAN’s key challenge is to translate the aspirations it has laid out in its 10-year blueprint into real reforms on the ground, and to ensure member states comply with their commitments.
    Source: Will 2025 be the final deadline for the AEC?