ASEAN leaders establish regional economic bloc

RSTV Bureau
Kuala Lumpur :  President Barack Obama waves as he walks off of the stage after speaking at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Business and Investment Summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Saturday, Nov. 21, 2015. President Obama is in Malaysia where he joins leaders from Southeast Asia to discuss trade and economic issues, and terrorism and disputes over the South China Sea.  AP/ PTI(AP11_21_2015_000028B)

President Obama is in Malaysia where he joins leaders from Southeast Asia to discuss trade and economic issues, and terrorism and disputes over the South China Sea.

The Kuala Lumpur declaration on the establishment of the AEC was signed by the leaders of 10-nation grouping in UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the 13th ASEAN Summit.

The AEC envisages a single market with a free flow of goods, capital and skilled labour across borders in the highly competitive economic region.It will integrate Southeast Asia’s diverse economies, a region with 620 million people and a combined gross domestic product of USD 2.4 trillion.

“ASEAN is working towards a community that is politically cohesive, economically integrated and socially responsible,” the declaration said.

Recently, Asian Legal Business, quoting a partner in a leading Singapore law firm, said, “China is cooling down and India is heating up, We believe that rivalry and competition from China and India will drive the ASEAN member-states to push the AEC agenda.”

The ASEAN 2025 document charts the path for the AEC building over the next ten years.

“It is a forward looking roadmap that articulates ASEAN goals and aspirations to realise further consolidation,” the leaders said.

ASEAN 2025 means a community committed to working with external partners to strengthen cooperation in combating non-traditional security challenges like terrorism, drug related crimes, human trafficking and maritime issues through various initiatives and projects, the declaration added.

ASEAN grouping includes Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

(With Inputs from Agencies)