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

Article | 26 April 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. ASEAN leaders have concluded that “economic size” bestows significant advantage in accelerating growth and fostering development.
    Source: ADBI. 2014. ASEAN 2030: Toward a Borderless Economic Community
  3. If ASEAN were one economy, it would be one of the largest in the world with a combined gross domestic product of $2.57 trillion. The services sector is the ASEAN's biggest contributor to growth, making up about half of the region's total GDP.
    Source: ASEAN GDP Grows by 4.6%
  4. To achieve greater economic scale, ASEAN is in the process of creating a single market and production base, called the ASEAN Economic Community, which will allow the free flow of goods, services, investments, and skilled labor, and the freer movement of capital across the region.
    Source: 24th ASEAN Summit. 2014. Myanmar. Nay Pyi Taw Declaration
  5. With over 600 million people, ASEAN's potential market is larger than the European Union or North America. Next to the People's Republic of China and India, ASEAN has the world's third largest labor force that remains relatively young.
    Source: Speech by ADB Vice-President Stephen Groff. 2014. Berlin, Federal Republic of Germany. ASEAN Integration and the Private Sector
  6. 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: Stopping ASEAN's brain drain - Bambang Susantono
  7. ASEAN is one of the most open economic regions in the world, with total merchandise exports of over $1.2 trillion - nearly 54% of total ASEAN GDP and 7% of global exports.
    Source: ADBI. 2014. ASEAN 2030: Toward a Borderless Economic Community
  8. The ASEAN Economic Community is founded on four basic initiatives: creating a single market and production base; increasing competitiveness; promoting equitable economic development; and further integrating ASEAN with the global economy.
    Source: ASEAN. 2007. Singapore. Declaration on the ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint
  9. ASEAN's physical infrastructure is critical to the ASEAN Economic Community's goal of establishing a single market and production base. Cross-border roads, power lines, railways and maritime development will help propel the community forward. This will boost existing and new value chains or production networks.
    Source: 19th ASEAN Finance Ministers' Meeting. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. 2015. Speech by ADB President Takehiko Nakao
  10. One of ASEAN's major challenges is achieving professional mobility within the region. ASEAN is a net exporter of migrant workers, sending about 19 million workers to other regions while only 7 million ASEAN nationals work in other member countries.
    Source: Achieving professional mobility within ASEAN - Guntur Sugiyarto
  11. Although the ASEAN Economic Community formally began at the end of December 2015, genuine economic integration remains some way off, as changes are needed to domestic laws and in some cases to constitutions.
    Source: ADB. 2015. Realizing an ASEAN Economic Community: Progress and Remaining Challenges
  12. ASEAN needs a plan beyond the ASEAN Economic Community to achieve the long-term development aspirations of its 10 member countries, according to an ADB study. This includes introducing structural reforms nationally and taking bold actions regionally to further deepen economic integration.
    Source: ADBI. 2014. ASEAN 2030: Toward a Borderless Economic Community