MY BIZ: Asean leaders launch EU-style economic group 

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) announced the establishment of an European Union-style regional economic bloc on Sunday. 

The Asean Economic Community (AEC) will be a single market with a free flow of goods, capital and skilled labour in the region. 

The Kuala Lumpur declaration on the establishment of the AEC was signed by the leaders of 10- nation grouping in front of world leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi (far left), and US President Barack Obama with other leaders during the 10th East Asia Summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Prime Minister Narendra Modi (far left), and US President Barack Obama with other leaders during the 10th East Asia Summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

The AEC will integrate Southeast Asia’s diverse economies, a region with 620 million people and a combined gross domestic product of $2.4 trillion. 

The Asean leaders also adopted the declaration on Asean 2025 forging ahead together. 

“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 road map 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 includes Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. 

Meanwhile, government sources said that Indonesia, Philippines and Cambodia are likely to ratify the long-pending free trade agreement (FTA) on services and investment with India by next month, which will pave way for its full implementation by the 10-nation bloc. 

Many Asean member countries, including Singapore, have been impressing upon the three nations to ratify the agreement at the earliest and India has been conveyed that the process will be completed by December, sources said. 

The FTA in services and investment came into force from July in countries which have ratified it.

No comments have so far been submitted. Why not be the first to send us your thoughts, or debate this issue live on our message boards.

By posting your comment you agree to our house rules.

Who is this week's top commenter? Find out now