Association of Southeast Asian Nations

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Association of Southeast Asian Nations
Flag Emblem
"One Vision, One Identity, One Community"[1]
Anthem: The ASEAN Way
Headquarters Indonesia Jakarta, Indonesiaa
Working language
 -  Secretary General Vietnam Lê Lương Minh[2]
 -  Current ASEAN Chair  Malaysia
 -  Bangkok Declaration 8 August 1967 
 -  Charter 16 December 2008 
 -  Total 4,479,210.5 km2
2,778,124.7 sq mi
 -  2014 estimate 620,438,505
 -  Density 138/km2
223/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2011 estimate
 -  Total US$3.574 trillion[3]
 -  Per capita US$5,930
GDP (nominal) 2013 estimate
 -  Total US$2.403 trillion
 -  Per capita US$3,909
HDI (2013) Increase 0.669b
Time zone ASEAN (UTC+9 to +6:30)
Calling code
Internet TLD
a. Address: Jalan Sisingamangaraja No.70A, South Jakarta.
b. Calculated using UNDP data from member states.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations[4] (ASEAN /ˈɑːsi.ɑːn/ AH-see-ahn,[5] /ˈɑːzi.ɑːn/ AH-zee-ahn)[6][7] is a political and economic organisation of ten Southeast Asian countries, which was formed on 8 August 1967 by Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand.[8] Since then, membership has expanded to include Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar (Burma), and Vietnam. Its aims include accelerating economic growth, social progress, and sociocultural evolution among its members, protection of regional peace and stability, and opportunities for member countries to discuss differences peacefully.[9][10]

ASEAN covers a land area of 4.4 million km², 3% of the total land area of earth. The territorial waters of ASEAN member-states is about three times larger than its land counterpart. It has a population of approximately 617 million people, or 8.8% of the world's population. In 2012, its combined nominal GDP had grown to more than US$2.3 trillion. If ASEAN were a single entity, it would rank as the seventh largest economy in the world, behind the US, China, Japan, Germany, France, and the United Kingdom.[11]




As set out in the ASEAN Declaration, the aims and purposes of ASEAN are:

  • To accelerate economic growth, social progress, and cultural development in the region
  • To promote regional peace and stability
  • To promote collaboration and mutual assistance on matters of common interest
  • To provide assistance to each other in the form of training and research facilities
  • To collaborate for the better utilisation of agriculture and industry to raise the living standards of the people
  • To promote Southeast Asian studies
  • To maintain close, beneficial co-operation with existing international organisations with similar aims and purposes[12]


labelled map of ASEAN members states
The member states of ASEAN


ASEAN was prefigured by an organisation called the Association of Southeast Asia (ASA), a group consisting of the Philippines, Malaysia, and Thailand that was formed in 1961. ASEAN itself was inaugurated on 8 August 1967, when foreign ministers of five countries, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand, signed the ASEAN Declaration, more commonly known as the Bangkok Declaration.

Motivation for the birth of ASEAN was a common fear of communism[13] and a thirst for economic development.

ASEAN grew when Brunei Darussalam became the sixth member on 8 January 1984, barely a week after gaining independence.[14]

Expansion and further integration[edit]

Maldives Nepal Sri Lanka Bhutan Bangladesh India Thailand Myanmar Afghanistan Pakistan Cambodia Vietnam Laos Turkmenistan Iran Tajikistan Uzbekistan Azerbaijan Turkey Kazakhstan Kyrgyzstan China Russia Brunei Indonesia Malaysia Philippines Singapore Kuwait Bahrain Oman Qatar Saudi Arabia United Arab Emirates Japan Mongolia South Korea Armenia Georgia Iraq Israel Jordan Lebanon North Korea Palestine Syria Taiwan Timor-Leste Yemen Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation Mekong–Ganga Cooperation South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation Association of Southeast Asian Nations Economic Cooperation Organization Turkic Council Shanghai Cooperation Organization Gulf Cooperation Council Asia Cooperation Dialogue
A clickable Euler diagram showing the relationships between various Asian regional organisations vde

ASEAN achieved greater cohesion in the mid-1970s following the changed balance of power in Southeast Asia after the end of the Vietnam War. The region’s dynamic economic growth during the 1970s strengthened the organisation, enabling ASEAN to adopt a unified response to Vietnam’s invasion of Cambodia in 1979. ASEAN's first summit meeting, held in Bali, Indonesia, in 1976, resulted in an agreement on several industrial projects and the signing of a Treaty of Amity and Cooperation and a Declaration of Concord. The end of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union at the end of the 1980s allowed ASEAN countries to exercise greater political independence in the region, and in the 1990s ASEAN emerged as a leading voice on regional trade and security issues.[15]

On 28 July 1995, Vietnam became the seventh member.[16] Laos and Myanmar (Burma) joined two years later on 23 July 1997.[17] Cambodia was to have joined together with Laos and Burma, but entry was delayed due to the country's internal political struggle. The country later joined on 30 April 1999, following the stabilisation of its government.[17][18]

In 1990, Malaysia proposed the creation of an East Asia Economic Caucus[19] composed of the members of ASEAN as well as the People's Republic of China, Japan, and South Korea, with the intention of counterbalancing the growing influence of the United States in Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and in the Asian region as a whole.[20][21] The proposal failed, however, because of heavy opposition from the US and Japan.[20][22] Member states continued to work for further integration and ASEAN Plus Three was created in 1997.

In 1992, the Common Effective Preferential Tariff (CEPT) scheme was adopted as a schedule for phasing out tariffs and as a goal to increase the "region's competitive advantage as a production base geared for the world market". This law would act as the framework for the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA). AFTA is an agreement by member nations concerning local manufacturing in ASEAN countries. The AFTA agreement was signed on 28 January 1992 in Singapore.[23]

After the East Asian Financial Crisis of 1997, a revival of the Malaysian proposal was put forward in Chiang Mai, known as the Chiang Mai Initiative, which called for better integration of the economies of ASEAN as well as the ASEAN Plus Three countries, China, Japan, and South Korea.[24]

The bloc also focused on peace and stability in the region. On 15 December 1995, the Southeast Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty was signed with the intention of turning Southeast Asia into a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone. The treaty took effect on 28 March 1997 after all but one of the member states had ratified it. It became fully effective on 21 June 2001, after the Philippines ratified, effectively banning all nuclear weapons in the region.[25]

ASEAN Plus Three[edit]

Leaders of each country felt the need to further integrate the region. Beginning in 1997, the bloc began creating organisations with the intention of achieving this goal. ASEAN Plus Three was the first of these and was created to improve existing ties with the People's Republic of China, Japan, and South Korea. This was followed by the even larger East Asia Summit (EAS), which included ASEAN Plus Three countries as well as India, Australia, New Zealand, United States, and Russia. This new grouping acted as a prerequisite for the planned East Asia Community, which was supposedly patterned after the now-defunct European Community. The ASEAN Eminent Persons Group was created to study the possible successes and failures of this policy as well as the possibility of drafting an ASEAN Charter.

In 2006, ASEAN was given observer status at the United Nations General Assembly.[26] In response, the organisation awarded the status of "dialogue partner" to the UN.[27]

Free trade[edit]

Free trade initiatives in ASEAN are spearheaded by the implementation of the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement (ATIGA) and Agreement on Customs. These agreements are supported by work done by several sectoral bodies to plan and execute free trade measures, guided by the provisions and the requirements of ATIGA and the Agreement on Customs. The progress being made by these sectoral bodies forms the backbone for achieving the targets of the AEC Blueprint and establishing the ASEAN Economic Community by end-2015.[28]

2007 was the 40th anniversary of ASEAN's beginning, and 30 years of diplomatic relations with the US.[29] On 26 August 2007, ASEAN stated that it aims to complete all its free trade agreements with China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia, and New Zealand by 2013, in line with the start of the ASEAN Economic Community by 2015.[30][31] In November 2007 ASEAN members signed the ASEAN Charter, a constitution governing relations among ASEAN members and establishing ASEAN itself as an international legal entity.[citation needed] During the same year, the Cebu Declaration on East Asian Energy Security was signed on 15 January 2007, by ASEAN and the other members of the EAS (Australia, People's Republic of China, India, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea), which pursues energy security by finding energy alternatives to conventional fuels.[citation needed]

On 27 February 2009 a free trade agreement with the ASEAN regional bloc of 10 countries and Australia and its close partner New Zealand was signed, it is believed that this FTA would boost combined GDP across the 12 countries by more than US$48 billion over the period 2000–2020.[32][33] ASEAN members together with the group’s six major trading partners, Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea, began the first round of negotiations on 26–28 February 2013 in Bali, Indonesia, on establishment of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.[34]



ASEAN is built on three pillars:[4] the ASEAN Political-Security Community (APSC),[35] the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC),[36] and the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC)[37]

ASEAN seeks economic integration by creating an ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) by end-2015 to establish a common market.[38] The average economic growth of ASEAN's member nations during 1989–2009 was between 3.8% and 7%. This economic growth was greater than the average growth of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), which was 2.8%.[39] ASEAN has in recent years become a hub for digital adoption. E-commerce in the region, specifically in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines have seen dramatic gains, with Singapore and Malaysia leading the pack, accounting for 50% of total online sales for ASEAN.[40]

The ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) which was established on 28 January 1992[23] includes a Common Effective Preferential Tariff (CEPT) to promote the free flow of goods between member states.[38] When the AFTA agreement was originally signed, ASEAN had only six members (Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand). Vietnam joined in 1995, Laos and Burma in 1997, and Cambodia in 1999. The newcomers have not fully met AFTA's obligations, but they are officially considered part of the AFTA as they were required to sign the agreement upon entry into ASEAN, and were given longer time frames in which to meet AFTA's tariff reduction obligations.[41]

The next steps are to create a:

  • single market and production base
  • competitive economic region
  • region of equitable economic development
  • region fully integrated into the global economy

Since 2007, ASEAN countries have gradually lowered their import duties with member nations. The target is zero import duties by 2016.[42]

Internal Market[edit]

By the end of 2015, ASEAN plans to establish a common market based upon the four freedoms. The single market will ensure the free flow of goods, services, investment and skilled labour and the free flow of capital.

Until end of 2010, Intra-Asean trade were still low which mainly of them were mostly exporting to countries outside the region, except Laos and Myanmar were ASEAN-oriented in foreign trade with 80 percent and 50 percent respectively of their exports went to other ASEAN countries.[43] In 2009, realised Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) was $37.9 billion and increase by two-fold in 2010 to $75.8 billion. 22 percent of FDI came from the European Union, followed by ASEAN countries themselves by 16 percent and then followed by Japan and US.

An ASEAN Framework Agreement on Trade in Services was adopted at the ASEAN Summit in Bangkok in December 1995.[44] Under AFAS, ASEAN Member States enter into successive rounds of negotiations to liberalise trade in services with the aim of submitting increasingly higher levels of commitments. At present, ASEAN has concluded seven packages of commitments under AFAS.[45]

ASEAN six majors refer to the six largest economies in the area with economies many times larger than the remaining four ASEAN countries.

Country GDP (nominal) GDP (PPP) GDP (Per Capita)
 Indonesia 870,275,000,000 2,389,000,000,000 9,635
 Thailand 387,253,000,000 964,500,000,000 14,136
 Malaysia 313,158,000,000 693,600,000,000 23,160
 Singapore 297,941,000,000 425,300,000,000 78,762
 Philippines 272,067,000,000 643,100,000,000 6,597
 Vietnam 170,565,000,000 475,000,000,000 5,295

The ASEAN Capital Markets Forum (ACMF) consists of:

  • ASEAN Exchanges which is a collaboration of the 7 exchanges of Malaysia, Vietnam (2 exchanges), Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand and Singapore to promote the growth. It covers 70 percent of the transaction values of 7 ASEAN Stock Exchanges,[46] with objective to integrate ASEAN Stock Exchanges to compete with International Stock Exchanges
  • Mutual Recognition of Disclosure Standards, which aims to harmonise and equal of ASEAN Standards
  • Mutual Recognition of Collective of Investment Scheme (CIS), which aims to harmonise all regulations in ASEAN

Development gap

ASEAN members by
Human Development Index
Country HDI (2013)
 Singapore 0.901 very high
 Brunei 0.852 very high
 Malaysia 0.773 high
 Thailand 0.722 high
 Indonesia 0.684 medium
 ASEAN 0.669 medium
 Philippines 0.660 medium
 Vietnam 0.638 medium
 Cambodia 0.584 medium
 Laos 0.569 medium
 Myanmar 0.524 low

When Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, and Cambodia joined ASEAN in the late 1990s, concerns were raised about a certain developmental divide regarding a gap in average per capita GDP between older and the newer members. In response, the Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI) was formed by ASEAN as a regional integration policy with the principal goal of bridging this developmental divide, which, in addition to disparities in per capita GDP, is manifested by disparities in dimensions of human development such as life expectancy and literacy rates. Other than the IAI, other programmes for the development of the Mekong Basin - where all four newer ASEAN members are located - that tend to focus on infrastructure development have been effectively enacted. In general, ASEAN does not have the financial resources to extend substantial grants or loans to the new members. Therefore, it usually leaves the financing of these infrastructure projects to international financial institutions and to developed countries. Nevertheless, it has mobilised funding from these institutions and countries and from the ASEAN-6 (Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Brunei Darussalam, Singapore, and Thailand) themselves for areas where the development gap needs to be filled through the IAI programme. Other programmes intended for the development of the ASEAN-4 take advantage of the geographical proximity of the CLMV countries and tend to focus on infrastructure development in areas like transport, tourism, and power transmission.[48]

Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Initial in 2012 East Asia Summit and negotiations of Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) are predicted to be concluded in end of 2015. RCEP consists of all ten ASEAN countries plus 6 countries (China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, India, New Zealand) which have trade agreement with ASEAN countries. RCEP covers 45 percent of world population and about a third of world's total GDP. For example, New Zealand export about 60 percent of its goods to RCEP countries. RCEP is extension of ASEAN plus three and then ASEAN plus six.[49][50][51]

Monetary union[edit]

The concept of an Asian Currency Unit (ACU) started in the middle of the nineties, prior to the Asian currency meltdown.[52] It is a proposed basket of Asian currencies, similar to the European Currency Unit, which was the precursor of the Euro. The Asian Development Bank is responsible for exploring the feasibility and construction of the basket.[52][53]

Since the ACU is being considered to be a precursor to a common currency in the future, it has a dynamic outlook of the region.[54] The overall goal of a common currency is to contribute to the financial stability of a regional economy, including price stability. It means lower cost of cross-border business through the elimination of currency risk for the members of the monetary union. Greater flows of intra-regional trade would put pressure on prices, resulting in cheaper goods and services. Individuals benefit not only from the lowering of prices, they also make savings by not having to change money when travelling within the union, by being able to compare prices more readily, and by the reduced cost of transferring money across borders. However, there are conditions for a common currency: the intensity of intra-regional trade and the convergence of macroeconomic conditions. Substantial intra-ASEAN trade and economic integration is an incentive for a monetary union. Intra-ASEAN trade is growing, partly as a result of the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) and the ASEAN Economic Community.

However some obstacles remain. ASEAN currently trades more with other countries (80%) than among its member countries (20%). Therefore, ASEAN economies are more concerned about currency stability against major international currencies, like the US dollar. On macroeconomic conditions, ASEAN member countries have different levels of economic development, capacity and priorities that translate into different levels of interest and readiness. Monetary integration however implies less control over national monetary and fiscal policy to stimulate the economy. Therefore, greater convergence in macroeconomic conditions is being enacted to improve conditions and confidence in a common currency.[55] On the other hand, there are also constraints on the adoption of one currency, such as, diversity in the level of economic development across countries, weaknesses in the financial sectors of many countries, inadequacy of regional-level resource pooling mechanisms and institutions required for forming and managing a currency union, and lack of political preconditions for monetary co-operation and a common currency.[56]

Free-trade agreements[edit]

ASEAN has concluded free trade agreements with China (expecting bilateral trade of $500 billion by 2015),[57] Korea, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and India.[58] ASEAN-India bilateral trade crossed the $70 billion target in 2012 (target was to reach the level only by 2015).[citation needed] The agreement with People's Republic of China created the ASEAN–China Free Trade Area (ACFTA), which went into full effect on 1 January 2010. In addition, ASEAN is currently negotiating a free trade agreement with the European Union.[59] Republic of China (Taiwan) has also expressed interest in an agreement with ASEAN but needs to overcome diplomatic objections from China.[60]

From CMI to AMRO[edit]

Due to Asian financial crisis of 1997 to 1998 and long and difficult negotiations with International Monetary Fund, ASEAN+3 agreed to set up a mainly bilateral currency swap scheme known as the 2000 Chiang Mai Initiative (CMI) to anticipate another financial crisis or currency turmoil in the future. In 2006 they agreed to make CMI with multilateralisation and called as CMIM. On 3 May 2009, they agreed to make a currency pool consist of contribution $38.4 billion each by China and Japan, $19.2 billion by South Korea and totally $24 billion by all of ASEAN members, so the total currency pool was $120 billion.[61] A key component has also newly been added, with the establishment of a surveillance unit.[62]

The ASEAN+3 Macroeconomic and Research Office (AMRO) started its operation in Singapore in May 2011.[63] It performs a key regional surveillance function as part of the $120 billion of Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralisation (CMIM) currency swap facility that was established by Finance Minister and Central Bank Governors of ASEAN countries plus China, Japan and South Korea in December 2009.[64]

According to some analysts, the amount of $120 billion is relatively small (cover only about 20 percent of needs), so co-ordination or help from International Monetary Fund is still needed.[65] On 3 May 2012 ASEAN+3 finance ministers agreed to double emergency reserve fund to $240 billion.[66]

Single Aviation Market[edit]

The ASEAN Single Aviation Market (ASEAN-SAM), is the region's major aviation policy geared towards the development of a unified and single aviation market in Southeast Asia by 2015. The aviation policy was proposed by the ASEAN Air Transport Working Group, supported by the ASEAN Senior Transport Officials Meeting, and endorsed by the ASEAN Transport Ministers.[67] The ASEAN-SAM is expected to fully liberalise air travel between member states in the ASEAN region, allowing ASEAN countries and airlines operating in the region to directly benefit from the growth in air travel around the world, and also freeing up tourism, trade, investment and services flows between member states.[67][68] Since 1 December 2008, restrictions on the third and fourth freedoms of the air between capital cities of member states for air passengers services have been removed,[69] while from 1 January 2009, full liberalisation of air freight services in the region took effect.[67][68] On 1 January 2011, full liberalisation on fifth freedom traffic rights between all capital cities took effect.[70]

The ASEAN Single Aviation Market policy will supersede existing unilateral, bilateral and multilateral air services agreements among member states which are inconsistent with its provisions.

Intra-ASEAN travel[edit]

With the institutionalisation of visa-free travel between ASEAN member states, intra-ASEAN travel has boomed, a sign that endeavours to form an ASEAN community may bear fruit in years to come. In 2010, 47% or 34 million out of 73 million tourists in ASEAN member-states were from other ASEAN countries.[71]


In an article by Danessa O. Rivera for GMA News, the Tourism Congress of the Philippines (TCP) is holding a series of workshops and creating awareness among its stakeholders for upcoming Asean integration in 2015. The TCP is a national organisation of tourism enterprises created by virtue of the Tourism Act of 2009. In an email statement by the TCP President Rosanna Tuason-Fores explained the consultative meetings are to increase awareness level of the implications of the economic integration to tourism enterprises and to identify the market access opportunities for the business in the Philippines and other ASEAN economies.

Through consultative meetings, Tuason-Fores said the Departments of Tourism and of Trade and Industry will be able to get inputs for the roadmap of Philippine Tourism in 2015 and Beyond (with support from USAID Advancing Philippine Competitiveness).[72]

Europe and China are the main sources of tourists in the last 4 years.[73]


Satellite image of the 2006 haze over Borneo

As separate nation-states the environmental record of ASEAN members has been uninspiring. As an example, a study based on 2010 data concluded that five ASEAN nations are among the top ten (of 192 countries with ocean shorelines, Laos not among them as it is landlocked) dumpers of plastic waste into the ocean. Indonesia was ranked the second worst polluter; the Philippines third; Vietnam fourth; Thailand sixth; and Malaysia eighth.[74]

At the turn of the 21st century, the organisation started to discuss environmental agreements. These included the signing of the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution in 2002 as an attempt to control haze pollution in Southeast Asia.[75] Unfortunately, this was unsuccessful due to the outbreaks of the 2005 Malaysian haze and the 2006 Southeast Asian haze. Other environmental treaties introduced by the organisation include the Cebu Declaration on East Asian Energy Security,[76] the ASEAN Wildlife Enforcement Network in 2005,[77] and the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate, both of which are responses to the potential effects of climate change. Climate change is of current interest.

Through the Bali Concord II in 2003, ASEAN has subscribed to the notion of democratic peace, which means all member countries believe democratic processes will promote regional peace and stability. Also, the non-democratic members all agreed that it was something all member states should aspire to.[78]

Foreign affairs and summits[edit]

The ASEAN way[edit]

ASEAN members' flags in Jakarta
Royal Thai Embassy in Helsinki flying its own national flag as well as Asean flag
A billboard in Jakarta welcoming delegates for the 2011 ASEAN Summit

Since the post-independence phases of Southeast Asian states, efforts were made to implement regional foreign policies, but with a unifying focus to refrain from interference in domestic affairs of member states.

There was a move to unify the region under what was called the ‘ASEAN Way’ based on the ideals of non-interference, informality, minimal institutionalisation, consultation and consensus, non-use of force and non-confrontation. ASEAN members (especially Singapore) approved of the term ‘ASEAN Way’ to describe a regional method of multilateralism.

Thus the signing of the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia adopted fundamental principles:[79]

  • Mutual respect for the independence, sovereignty, equality, territorial integrity, and national identity of all nations
  • The right of every State to lead its national existence free from external interference, subversion or coercion
  • Non-interference in internal affairs
  • Settlement of differences or disputes in a peaceful manner
  • Renunciation of the threat or use of force
  • Effective regional co-operation

The ‘ASEAN way’ is said to contribute durability and longevity within the organisation, by promoting regional identity and enhancing a spirit of mutual confidence and co-operation.[80] ASEAN agreements are negotiated in a close, interpersonal process. The process of consultations and consensus is designed to engender a democratic approach to decision making. These leaders are wary of any effort to legitimise efforts to undermine their nation or contain regional co-operation.

ASEAN identity[edit]

ASEAN has formulated a planned integration among its ten member nations and has challenged its citizens to embrace a regional identity. The call for ASEAN identity delivers a challenge to construct dynamic institutions and foster sufficient amounts of social capital. The underlying assumption is that the creation of a regional identity is of special interest to ASEAN and the intent of the 2020 Vision policy document was to reassert the belief in a regional framework designed as an action plan related to human development and civic empowerment. Accordingly, these assumptions will be the basis for recommendations and strategies in developing a participatory regional identity.[81]

ASEAN Summits[edit]

The organisation holds meetings, known as the ASEAN Summit, where heads of government of each member meet to discuss and resolve regional issues, as well as to conduct other meetings with other countries outside of the bloc with the intention of promoting external relations.

The ASEAN Leaders' Formal Summit was first held in Bali, Indonesia in 1976. Its third meeting was held in Manila in 1987 and during this meeting, it was decided that the leaders would meet every five years.[82] Consequently, the fourth meeting was held in Singapore in 1992 where the leaders again agreed to meet more frequently, deciding to hold the summit every three years.[82] In 2001, it was decided to meet annually to address urgent issues affecting the region. Member nations were assigned to be the summit host in alphabetical order except in the case of Burma which dropped its 2006 hosting rights in 2004 due to pressure from the United States and the European Union.[83]

By December 2008, the ASEAN Charter came into force and with it, the ASEAN Summit will be held twice in a year.

The formal summit meets for three days. The usual itinerary is as follows:

  • Leaders of member states would hold an internal organisation meeting.
  • Leaders of member states would hold a conference together with foreign ministers of the ASEAN Regional Forum.
  • A meeting, known as ASEAN Plus Three, is set for leaders of three Dialogue Partners (People's Republic of China, Japan, South Korea)
  • A separate meeting, known as ASEAN-CER, is set for another set of leaders of two Dialogue Partners (Australia, New Zealand).[citation needed]
ASEAN Formal Summits
No Date Country Host Host leader
1st 23–24 February 1976  Indonesia Bali Soeharto
2nd 4–5 August 1977  Malaysia Kuala Lumpur Hussein Onn
3rd 14–15 December 1987  Philippines Manila Corazon Aquino
4th 27‒29 January 1992  Singapore Singapore Goh Chok Tong
5th 14‒15 December 1995  Thailand Bangkok Banharn Silpa-archa
6th 15‒16 December 1998  Vietnam Hanoi Phan Văn Khải
7th 5‒6 November 2001  Brunei Bandar Seri Begawan Hassanal Bolkiah
8th 4‒5 November 2002  Cambodia Phnom Penh Hun Sen
9th 7‒8 October 2003  Indonesia Bali Megawati Soekarnoputri
10th 29‒30 November 2004  Laos Vientiane Bounnhang Vorachith
11th 12‒14 December 2005  Malaysia Kuala Lumpur Abdullah Ahmad Badawi
12th 11‒14 January 20071  Philippines2 Cebu Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
13th 18‒22 November 2007  Singapore Singapore Lee Hsien Loong
14th3 27 February – 1 March 2009
10–11 April 2009
 Thailand Cha Am, Hua Hin
Abhisit Vejjajiva
15th 23 October 2009  Thailand Cha Am, Hua Hin
16th3 8–9 April 2010  Vietnam Hanoi Nguyễn Tấn Dũng
17th 28–31 October 2010  Vietnam Hanoi
18th4 7–8 May 2011  Indonesia Jakarta Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
19th4 14–19 November 2011  Indonesia Bali
20th 3–4 April 2012  Cambodia Phnom Penh Hun Sen
21st 17–20 November 2012  Cambodia Phnom Penh
22nd 24–25 April 2013  Brunei Bandar Seri Begawan Hassanal Bolkiah
23rd 9–10 October 2013  Brunei Bandar Seri Begawan
24th 10–11 May 2014  Myanmar Nay Pyi Taw Thein Sein
25th 10–12 November 2014  Myanmar Nay Pyi Taw
1 Postponed from 10‒14 December 2006 due to Typhoon Utor.
2 hosted the summit because Burma backed out due to enormous pressure from US and EU
3 This summit consisted of two parts.
The first part was moved from 12‒17 December 2008 due to the 2008 Thai political crisis.
The second part was aborted on 11 April due to protesters entering the summit venue.
4  Indonesia hosted twice in a row by swapping years with  Brunei, as it will play host to APEC (and the possibility of hosting the G20 summit which ultimately fell to Russia) in 2013.

During the fifth Summit in Bangkok, the leaders decided to meet "informally" between each formal summit:[82]

East Asia Summit[edit]

Main article: East Asia Summit
Participants of the East Asia Summit
  ASEAN Plus Three
  ASEAN Plus Six

The East Asia Summit (EAS) is a pan-Asian forum held annually by the leaders of 18 countries in the East Asian region, with ASEAN in a leadership position. Membership was initially all 10 members of ASEAN plus China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia, and New Zealand, but expanded to include the United States and Russia at the Sixth EAS in 2011.

The first summit was held in Kuala Lumpur on 14 December 2005 and subsequent meetings have been held after the annual ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting. The summit has discussed issues including trade, energy and security and the summit has a role in regional community building.

Commemorative summit[edit]

Main article: ASEAN Free Trade Area

A commemorative summit is a summit hosted by a non-ASEAN country to mark a milestone anniversary of the establishment of relations between ASEAN and the host country. The host country invites the heads of government of ASEAN member countries to discuss future co-operation and partnership.

Regional Forum[edit]

ASEAN full members
ASEAN observers
ASEAN candidate members
ASEAN Plus Three
East Asia Summit
ASEAN Regional Forum

The ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) is a formal, official, multilateral dialogue in Asia Pacific region. As of July 2007, it consists of 27 participants. ARF objectives are to foster dialogue and consultation, and promote confidence-building and preventive diplomacy in the region.[89] The ARF met for the first time in 1994. The current participants in the ARF are as follows: all the ASEAN members, Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, the People's Republic of China, the European Union, India, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Mongolia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Russia, East Timor, United States and Sri Lanka.[90] The Republic of China (also known as Taiwan) has been excluded since the establishment of the ARF, and issues regarding the Taiwan Strait are neither discussed at the ARF meetings nor stated in the ARF Chairman's Statements.

Other meetings[edit]

Aside from the ones above, other regular meetings are also held.[9] These include the annual ASEAN Ministerial Meeting[91] as well as other smaller committees.[92] Meetings mostly focus on specific topics, such as defence or the environment,[93] and are attended by ministers, instead of heads of government.

  • The ASEAN Plus Three is a meeting between ASEAN, China, Japan, and South Korea, and is primarily held during each ASEAN Summit. Until now China, Japan and South Korea have not yet formed Free Trade Area (FTA), the meeting about FTA among them will be held at end of 2012.[94]
  • The Asia–Europe Meeting (ASEM) is an informal dialogue process initiated in 1996 with the intention of strengthening co-operation between the countries of Europe and Asia, especially members of the European Union and ASEAN in particular.[95] ASEAN, represented by its Secretariat, is one of the 45 ASEM partners. It also appoints a representative to sit on the governing board of Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF), a socio-cultural organisation associated with the meeting.
  • The ASEAN–Russia Summit is an annual meeting between leaders of member states and the President of Russia.


Main article: ASEAN Charter
The Secretariat of ASEAN at Jalan Sisingamangaraja No.70A, South Jakarta, Indonesia

On 15 December 2008, the members of ASEAN met in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta to launch a charter, signed in November 2007, with the aim of moving closer to "an EU-style community".[96] The charter turns ASEAN into a legal entity and aims to create a single free-trade area for the region encompassing 500 million people. President of Indonesia Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono stated that "This is a momentous development when ASEAN is consolidating, integrating and transforming itself into a community. It is achieved while ASEAN seeks a more vigorous role in Asian and global affairs at a time when the international system is experiencing a seismic shift", he added, referring to climate change and economic upheaval, and concluded "Southeast Asia is no longer the bitterly divided, war-torn region it was in the 1960s and 1970s".

The 2008 global financial crisis was seen as being a threat to the goals envisioned by the charter,[97] and also set forth the idea of a proposed human rights body to be discussed at a future summit in February 2009. This proposition caused controversy, as the body would not have the power to impose sanctions or punish countries who violated citizens' rights and would therefore be limited in effectiveness.[98] The body was established later in 2009 as the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR). In November 2012, the commission adopted the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration.[99]

ASEAN media co-operation[edit]

ASEAN Media Cooperation (AMC) sets digital television standards and policies in preparation for broadcasters to transition from analogue to digital broadcasting.

During the 11th AMRI Conference, ASEAN adopted the theme, "Media Connecting Peoples and Bridging Cultures Towards One ASEAN Nation". ASEAN ministers believed that both new and traditional media are keys to connecting ASEAN peoples and bridging the cultural gap.[100]

Accessing information towards the goal of creating a one ASEAN nation requires participation among the nation members and its citizens. During the 18th ASEAN Summit in May 2011, the chair stated the important role of a participatory approach among people and stakeholders of ASEAN towards a "people-oriented, people centred, and rule-based ASEAN".[101]

Several key initiatives that were initiated under the AMC include:[102]

  • The new ASEAN Media Portal[103] was launched 16 November 2007 by ASEAN Secretary-General, Mr Ong Keng Yong, and witnessed by Singapore's Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts, Dr Lee Boon Yang. They said the portal aims to provide a one-stop site that contains documentaries, games, music videos, and multimedia clips on the culture, arts, and heritage of the ASEAN countries to showcase the rich ASEAN culture and the capabilities of its media industry.
  • The ASEAN NewsMaker Project, an initiative launched in 2009, trains students and teachers to produce informational video clips about their country. The project was initiated by Singapore to work closely with 500 primary and secondary students, ageing from 9 to 16 years old, along with their mentors from the 10 ASEAN countries, to produce informative videos promoting their respective country's culture. Students underwent NewsMaker software training, video production skills, and responsible Internet usage, together with developing narrative storytelling skills. Engaging youth using new media is fundamental in creating one ASEAN community as stressed by Dr Soeung Rathchavy, Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN for ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community. "Raising ASEAN awareness amongst the youth is part and parcel of our efforts to build the ASEAN Community by 2015. Using ICT and the media, our youths in the region will get to know ASEAN better, deepening their understanding and appreciation of the cultures, social traditions and values in ASEAN."[104]
  • The ASEAN Digital Broadcasting Meeting, an annual forum for ASEAN members to set digital television standards and policies and to discuss progress in the implementation of the blueprint from analogue to digital TV broadcasting by 2020. During the 11th ASEAN Digital Broadcasting Meeting,[105] members updated the status on DTV implementation and agreed to inform ASEAN members on the Guidelines for ASEAN Digital Switchover.[106] An issue was raised on the availability and affordability of set top boxes (STB), thus ASEAN members were asked to make policies to determine funding for the STB, methods of allocation, subsidies and rebates and other methods for the allocation of STB. It was also agreed in the meeting to form a task force to develop STB specifications for DVB-T2 to ensure efficiency.

ASEAN ministers responsible for information (AMRI)[edit]

ASEAN member states promote co-operation in information to help build an ASEAN identity. One of the main bodies in ASEAN co-operation in information is the ASEAN Committee on Culture and Information (COCI). Established in 1978, its mission is to promote effective co-operation in the fields of information, as well as culture, through its various projects and activities. The COCI comprises representatives from national institutions like the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministries of Culture and Information, national radio and television networks, museums, archives and libraries, among others. Together, they meet once a year to formulate and agree on projects to fulfil their mission.[107]

10th ASEAN AMRI: The 10th Conference of the ASEAN Ministers Responsible for Information (AMRI) was held in Vientiane, Lao PDR, on 2–7 November 2009, attended by ministers responsible for information and senior officials from all ASEAN member states, as well as representatives from the ASEAN secretariat.[108]

11th ASEAN AMRI: During the 11th ASEAN Ministers Responsible for Information meeting held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, ASEAN leaders recognised the emergence of new and social media as an important tool for communications and interaction in ASEAN today. The Ministers agreed that efforts should be made to leverage on social media to promote ASEAN awareness towards achieving an ASEAN community by 2015. Initially, ASEAN will consolidate the ASEAN Culture and Information Portal and the ASEAN Media Portal to incorporate new media elements.[109]

12th ASEAN AMRI: The 12th Conference of the ASEAN Ministers Responsible for Information and Third Conference of ASEAN Plus Three Ministers Responsible for Information was held in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, 12 June 2014)[110]

Citizen involvement in one ASEAN community In building the ASEAN community by 2015, the AMRI technical working group have called for citizen involvement in crafting a "connectivity master plan". Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Sonny Coloma said the interaction must not only come from governmental officials, but also from citizens themselves.[111] He stressed the importance of the participation of students, saying the way to build ASEAN consciousness and awareness is through the youth. ASEAN saw the need for breaching the digital divide, increasing Internet penetration and harmonising technology to enhance ties. In Malaysia, Balakrishnan Kandasamy said this has been actively executed in his country, where usage of social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter has been increasing.

Education and human development[edit]

A "collective entity to enhance regional cooperation in education", the ASEAN Education Ministers have determined four priorities for education: (1) Promoting ASEAN awareness among ASEAN citizens, particularly the youth; (2) Strengthening ASEAN identity through education; (3) Building ASEAN human resources in the field of education; and (4) Strengthening the ASEAN University Network.[112] Nations such as Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines have experienced rapid development in education over the past 20 years. ASEAN initiatives plan to interconnect the countries' unique human and physical infrastructure to provide youth education, to sustain economic growth for the entire region.[113] Various programmes and projects have been and are currently in the process of being developed to fulfil these directives and to reach these future goals.[112]

At the 11th ASEAN Summit in December 2005, ASEAN Leaders set new directions for regional education collaboration when they welcomed the decision of the ASEAN Education Ministers to convene meetings on a regular basis.[114] The ASEAN Education Ministers Meeting, which meets annually, oversees ASEAN co-operation efforts on education at the ministerial level. With regard to implementation, programmes and activities are carried out by the ASEAN Senior Officials on Education (SOM-ED). SOM-ED also manages co-operation on higher education through the ASEAN University Network (AUN).

The ASEAN University Network (AUN) was established to (1) promote co-operation among ASEAN scholars, academics, and scientists in the region; (2) develop academic and professional human resources in the region; (3) promote information dissemination among the ASEAN academic community; and (4) enhance the awareness of a regional identity and the sense of "ASEAN-ness" among members.[112]

For example, Batangas State University in the Philippines, is encouraging its faculty members, who are engineers by profession, to apply as an "ASEAN engineer" through the ASEAN Engineering Register (AER). The AER has spearheaded the mobility of engineers within ASEAN since 1998.[115] As a result, seven (7) Mechanical Engineers and two (2) Industrial Engineers of the university were conferred as ASEAN Engineers. The new president of Batangas State University was the first engineer in the province of Batangas to be named an ASEAN Engineer.[116] This initiative is in line with the ASEAN Secretarial Program for the liberalisation of professional services which aims for globalisation under the World Trade Organisation (WTO) initiative.

Education indicators are outlined separated in three levels: primary, secondary, and tertiary. Primary education is generally defined as the level of education where children are provided with basic reading, writing, and mathematical skills together with elementary understanding of such subjects as history, geography, natural science, social science, art, and music. Secondary education continues to build up on the knowledge provided by primary education and aims at laying the foundations for lifelong learning and human development with more advanced material and learning mechanisms. Tertiary education, whether or not leading to an advanced research qualification, requires the successful completion of secondary education for admission and entails education within a college or university.

School enrolment and participation[edit]

Participation in formal education is usually measured by the metric Gross Enrollment Ratio (GER) and Net Enrollment Ratio (NER). The NER demonstrates the extent of participation in a given age-specific level of education. The purpose of the GER is to show the total enrolment in a level of education regardless of age. The GER is expressed as a percentage of the official school-age population corresponding to the same level of education.

Primary education[edit]

Brunei Darussalam had almost reached 100% net enrolment by 2001, while Indonesia has slowly moved downward from close to that enrolment percentage thereafter. The Philippines has been inching closer and closer to this target in recent years. The data indicate two groups of countries - one which has consistently attained a net enrolment ratio of more than 90% (Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Singapore) and the other group with around 80% (Cambodia, Lao PDR and Myanmar). Vietnam started in the lower group and has since moved to the upper group in the last few decades. Thailand has not provided data for both sexes, but the separate net enrolment ratio for girls and boys indicates that the overall ratio would be between 86% and 87%, and as such would be closer to the higher group. The primary net enrolment ratios of boys were almost always higher than those of girls for all reporting countries except Malaysia. For Singapore and Indonesia since 1998, however, the net enrolment ratios for girls and boys were not significantly different. A marked widening of gender gap was noticeable in the Philippines in 1997 but in 1999 the net enrolment ratios for girls exceeded that for boys.

It is also useful to look at retention and efficiency rates in education throughout ASEAN. The effectiveness of efforts to extend literacy depends on the ability of the education system to ensure full participation of school-age children and their successful progression to reach at least grade 5, which is the stage when they are believed to have firmly acquired literacy and numeracy. The usual indicator to measure the level of this efficiency achievement is the proportion of pupils starting grade 1 reaching grade 5 of primary education.

Most reporting countries in ASEAN have steadily improved retention rates of pupils through 5th grade. At the top are Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand, which have shown consistent survival rates of close to 100%, indicating a very high retention of children in school through at least 5th grade. Among the rest of the countries with rates ranging from 57% to 89% towards the end of the past century, Myanmar has maintained the largest improvements over the years.

Secondary education[edit]

High school students in Laos assemble a jigsaw puzzle map of Southeast Asia. Laos is a member of ASEAN but most students know little about the other 9 member countries. The map is one of many hands-on activities offered by Big Brother Mouse, a not-for-profit literacy and education project.

By 2001, Brunei, Myanmar, Singapore, Malaysia, and the Philippines had achieved improvements in net enrolment ratios for secondary education of 11%-19% over those of 1990 or 1991. Vietnam experienced the fastest growth rate in net enrolment between the years 1993 and 1998. Singapore, the country with the highest overall achievement, has maintained consistently high net enrolment rates of above 90% since 1994. With regard to gender differences, the difference in the ratios of females to males ranges from 0.2%-6% (for the six countries for which these ratios are available: Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam). The overall pattern is that girls seem to exhibit appreciably higher net enrolment ratios for secondary education, except in the case of Singapore where the ratios for girls and boys converged in the second half of the reporting period.

Tertiary education[edit]

While the High Performing Asian Economies and the 6 oldest ASEAN members have invested heavily in public education, and unlike many other developing nations, have concentrated on primary and secondary schooling, tertiary education has been left largely to the private sector.[117] Tertiary education in Southeast Asia is in general relatively weak. In most cases universities are focused on teaching and service to government rather than academic research. Additionally, universities in Southeast Asia, both in terms of academic salaries and research infrastructure (libraries, laboratories) tend to be financially handicapped and poorly supported. Moreover, regional academic journals cater to their local audiences and respond less to international standards which makes universal or regional benchmarking difficult.[118]

University network[edit]

  • The ASEAN University Network (AUN) is a consortium of Southeast Asian universities. It was originally founded in November 1995 by 11 universities within the member states.[119] Currently AUN comprises 30 participating universities.[120]
  • The Southeast Asia Engineering Education Development Network (SEED-NET) Project, was officially established as an autonomous sub-network of the ASEAN University Network (AUN) in April 2001'. AUN/SEED-Net aimed at promoting human resources development in engineering in ASEAN. The Network consists of 26 leading Member Institutions (selected by the Ministries in charge of higher education of respective countries) from 10 ASEAN countries with 11 leading Japanese Supporting Universities (selected by Japanese Government). AUN/SEED-Net is mainly supported by the Japanese Government through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), and partially supported by the ASEAN Foundation. AUN/SEED-Net activities are implemented by the AUN/SEED-Net Secretariat with the support of the JICA Project for AUN/SEED-Net, now based at Chulalongkorn University, Thailand.

Public efforts[edit]

Financial resources[edit]

Governments have a vested interest in investing in education and other aspects of human capital infrastructure, especially rapidly developing nations such as those within ASEAN. In the short run, investment spending directly supports aggregate demand and growth. In the longer term, investments in physical infrastructure, productivity enhancements, and provision of education and health services determine the potential for growth.[121]

To measure the investments in education by governments, current expenditure on primary education as a percent of GDP and expenditure per pupil as a percent of GDP are taken into account. These two indicators are based on public current expenditure at all government levels on all public primary schools and subsidies to private educational institutions, teachers and pupils. In some instances regarding figures used in these calculations, data on current public expenditure on education may refer only to the Ministry of Education, excluding other ministries that spend a part of their budget on educational activities.

Primary education expenditure in ASEAN countries is usually lower than 3% of GDP, with the exception of Indonesia, which invests 5%. Two countries that show noticeable rising trends are the Philippines and Laos. Malaysia has experienced a gradual downward trend throughout the 1990s, but stabilised around the year 2000. Indonesia experienced a sharp decline in primary education expenditure as a percent of GDP between 1995 and 1999 from almost 10% to 5%. Singapore maintained a stable 0.6% until 2000, then increased it slightly to 0.7% in 2001.


The ASEAN Scholarship is a scholarship programme offered by Singapore to the 9 other member states for secondary school, junior college, and university education. It covers accommodation, food, medical benefits and accident insurance, school fees, and examination fees.[122] Scholarship recipients who then perform well in the GCE Advanced Level Examination may apply for ASEAN Undergraduate Scholarships, which are tailored specifically for undergraduate institutions in Singapore and in other ASEAN member countries.[123] Singapore has effectively used this programme to attract many of the best students from the ASEAN region over the past several years, and scholars for the most part tend to remain in Singapore to pursue undergraduate studies through the ASEAN Undergraduate Scholarship programme.[124]

Education as a determinant of human development[edit]

Statistically, educational attainment (as measured by average years of schooling) strongly correlates with subsequent income levels and development capabilities. An improvement in educational attainment will have a positive effect on a country's income and human development (humanity) growth.[125]

It is therefore evident that "universal access to, and completion of, primary or basic education is a self-evident goal upon which the foundations for building the human capacity rests. Increased participation, regardless of sex, in secondary and tertiary levels of education is a necessary step to be able to move forward in the process of achieving equity, capacity building, access to information, and strengthening science.

Literacy rates[edit]

Literacy indicators provide a measure of the number of literate persons within the population who are capable of using written words in daily life and to continue to learn. The literacy rate essentially reflects the cumulative accomplishment of education in spreading literacy. The literacy rate is usually linked to school enrolment ratios and school retention rates (through at least grade 5) of primary education, both of which contribute to a literate population.

The data of literacy rates in reporting countries of 15 to 24 years old reflect outcomes of the basic education process and is therefore considered an accepted measure of the effectiveness of that country's education system's investment in children. Among the eight ASEAN countries reporting, six have made significant progress towards 100% literacy by 2000. This progress is comparable to Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) member countried, an impressive accomplishment. Overall, there is not much disparity between male and female literacy with the exceptions of Cambodia and Lao PDR, where the literacy rate for females is about 10% lower than that of males in 1999. Overall improvement in literacy rates, though, indicate the effectiveness of the primary education systems of these countries throughout the 1990s.[126]

Country Year (most recent) Adult (15+) Literacy Rate Total Adult Men Adult Women Youth (15-24) Literacy Rate Total Youth Men Youth Women
 Brunei 2009 95% 97% 94% 100% 100% 100%
 Cambodia 2008 78% 85% 71% 87% 89% 86%
 Indonesia 2008 92% 95% 89% 99% 100% 99%
 Laos 2005 73% 82% 63% 84% 89% 79%
 Malaysia 2009 92% 95% 90% 99% 98% 99%
 Burma 2009 92% 95% 90% 96% 96% 95%
 Philippines 2008 95% 95% 96% 98% 97% 98%
 Singapore 2009 95% 97% 92% 100% 100% 100%
 Thailand 2005 94% 96% 92% 98% 98% 98%
 Vietnam 2009 93% 95% 91% 97% 97% 96%

Looking at adult (defined as the entire population 15 and older) literacy rates, we can see that most reporting countries have made significant progress in this demographic as well. All but two reporting countries reached adult literacy rates of around 90% or better. Looking at the differences in literacy rates by gender, we can see a visible gender gap. This gap is most apparent in Cambodia and Laos, with percentage differences between adult men and adult women literacy rates of 14% and 19%, respectively. Only in the Philippines is the literacy rate among women higher than among men.

ASEAN Integration 2015[edit]

For nearly two decades, the ASEAN was composed of only five countries—Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand—being its founders in 1967. Other southeast Asian countries joined in different times: Brunei (1984), Vietnam (1995), Laos and Myanmar (1997), and Cambodia (1999).

The ASEAN Community, aimed to be fully established by 2015 through the process of integration, is a product of various and successive declarations and agreements between the ASEAN member-states. One landmark agreement was the ASEAN Vision 2020 signed on 1997 in Kuala Lumpur. It delineated the visions of the member-states for the region to be achieved two decades on. Included here were provisions on peace and stability, being nuclear-free, closer economic integration, human development, sustainable development, cultural heritage, being drug-free, environment, among others. The Vision also aimed to "see an outward-looking ASEAN playing a pivotal role in the international fora, and advancing ASEAN's common interests",[127] exhibiting the hope for a common regional identity.

The Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI) was launched in 2000 to help the newer members (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam) to be integrated economically, narrowing the development gap between them and the original members.[128]

In a speech by former Singaporean Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong titled "Deepening Regional Integration and Co-operation", he mentioned reinvigorating the ASEAN economies from the slump of the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis. He proposed for deeper economic integration within the region and enhancement of linkages with other economies outside the region; the need for response to the growth of the East Asian economies, especially "riding on" the rising Chinese economy; and stronger regional anti-terrorism measures. "[T]he general way forward for ASEAN is clearly faster and deeper integration, internally, and with the rest of East Asia, rather than slower and less,"[129] he said, further musing should ASEAN evolve like the European Union or remain a "free association of independent states that voluntarily synchronise their policies."

The Bali Concord II of 2003 was an affirmation and reiteration of the principles of original Bali Concord of 1976. This stipulated the formation of an ASEAN Community with the establishment of three pillars, namely ASEAN Security Community (now ASEAN Political-Security Community or APSC), ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), and ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC), all of which are "closely intertwined and mutually reinforcing for the purpose of ensuring durable peace, stability and shared prosperity in the region."[130]

At the 12th ASEAN Summit in Cebu, Philippines on January 2007, the member-states agreed to accelerate by five years the fulfilment of the ASEAN Community as planned in Vision 2020 and Bali Concord II, making the integration possible by 2015.

Former ASEAN Secretary General Rodolfo Severino Jr. explained in a paper about the acceleration: "Problems that require regional cooperation are increasing in number and severity. The acceleration of ASEAN community building, therefore, seems justified and urgently so."[131] Yet he further opined that "ASEAN has a long way to go in achieving the goals that its leaders have set. It is still a long way from becoming a real community.... ASEAN has seldom espoused common positions on great international or regional issues. It has not exerted effective intellectual leadership in the regional security forums that it has organised."

On 20 November 2007, the ASEAN Charter was signed in Singapore, 40 years after the founding of ASEAN. Also concurrently signed was the AEC Blueprint. The blueprints for APSC and ASCC were adopted on 1 March 2009 in Thailand. These blueprints outline the road maps for the establishment of the three pillars by 2015 as part of the larger ASEAN Community entity.

ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint[edit]

The ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) is now often referred to as "AEC 2015" since its original implementation date was brought forward from 2020 to 31 December 2015. As one of the three pillars of the ASEAN, it aims to "implement economic integration initiatives" to create a single market across ASEAN nations. On 20 November 2007, during the 13th ASEAN Summit in Singapore, its blueprint, which serves as a master plan guiding the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community 2015, was adopted.[132]

The ASEAN Economic Community is the goal of regional economic integration by 2015. Its characteristics include: (1) a single market and production base, (2) a highly competitive economic region, (3) a region of fair economic development, and (4) a region fully integrated into the global economy. The areas of co-operation include human resources development; recognition of professional qualifications; closer consultation on macroeconomic and financial policies; trade financing measures; enhanced infrastructure and communications connectivity; development of electronic transactions through e-ASEAN; integrating industries across the region to promote regional sourcing; and enhancing private sector involvement. Through the free movement of skilled labour, goods, services and investment, ASEAN will rise globally as one market with each member gaining from each other's strengths, thus increasing its competitiveness and opportunities for development.[133]

The AEC is the embodiment of the ASEAN's vision of "...a stable, prosperous and highly competitive ASEAN economic region in which there is a free flow of goods, services, investment and a freer flow of capital, equitable economic development and reduced poverty and socio-economic disparities.[134]

The formulation of an AEC Blueprint established the members' commitment to a common goal as well as ensuring compliance with stated objectives and timelines. The AEC Blueprint lays out the overall vision as well as the goals, implementing plans and strategies (actions) as well as the strategic schedule (timeline) for achieving the establishment of the AEC by end-2015.[134]

ASEAN will officially declare the establishment of an ASEAN Economic Community by end-December 2015. For ASEAN economies and citizens, it will be business as usual because the key agreements and regulations that will govern the business and economic relationships under the AEC are already in place and operational.[134]

Reception and Criticisms ASEAN's integration plan has raised concerns. In particular, meeting the 2015 deadline has been questioned. Business and economy experts who attended the Lippo-UPH Dialogue in Naypidaw, Malaysia cited unresolved issues relating to aviation, agriculture, and human resources.[135] although some panellists, among them, Kishore Mahbubani, warned against high expectations at the onset. He stated:

"Please do not expect a big bang event in 2015 where everything is going to happen overnight when the ASEAN Economic Community comes into being. We've made progress in some areas and unfortunately regressed in some areas.[136]

Some panellists enumerated other matters to be dealt with for a successful launch. Among them were the communications issues involving the 600 million citizens living in the region, creating a heightened level of understanding from the business sector, current visa arrangements, demand for specific skills, banking connections, and economic differences between member-nations.

Former Philippine National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) Secretary General Romulo A. Virola, said in 2012 that the Philippines does not appear to be ready to benefit from ASEAN integration due to its "wobbly" economic performance compared to other ASEAN member countries. According to Virola, the Philippines continues to lag behind in terms of employment rate, tourism, life expectancy, and cellular subscriptions.[137]

Nestor Tan, who heads the Philippines' largest bank, BDO Unibank Inc., said that while some businesses see the Asian Economic Blueprint (AEC) as an opportunity, the integration would be more of a threat to local firms. "I think the Philippine industries are not ready yet," he said. Tan said that protecting the country's agricultural and financial services sectors, as well as the labour sector, would be necessary for the implementation of AEC by 2015.[138]

Standard & Poor's, an American financial services company, also believed that banks in the Philippines are not yet prepared for the tougher competition that would result from the integration of Southeast Asian economies. In one of its latest publications, S&P said banks in the country, although profitable and stable, operate on a much smaller scale than their counterparts in the region.[138]

The US Chamber of Commerce has highlighted the widespread concern that the much-anticipated ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) could not be launched by the end-2015 deadline.[139]

In January 2014, former ASEAN Secretary-General Rodolfo C. Severino, wrote, "While ASEAN should not be condemned for its members' failure to make good on their commitments, any failure to deliver will likely lead to a loss of credibility and could mean that member countries fall further behind in the global competition for export markets and foreign direct investment (FDI)."[140]

This is not the first time that AEC faces a probable delay. In 2012, the commencement of the AEC was postponed to 31 December 2015 from the original plan of 1 January 2015. Despite ASEAN Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan's firm reassurance that "[t]here will be no more delays and that all ten ASEAN countries will participate", even the most fervent proponents of AEC are beginning to worry about the increasingly diminishing chance of delivering AEC on time as December 2015 nears.[141]

ASEAN Political-Security Community Blueprint[edit]

During the 14th ASEAN Summit held 26 February to 1 March 2009, the ASEAN heads of state/governments adopted the ASEAN Political-Security Community Blueprint (APSC).[142] This document is designed to create a robust political-security environment within ASEAN, with programs and activities outlined to establish the APSC by 2015. It carries forward the principles and purposes of the ASEAN charter and is based on the ASEAN Security Community Plan of Action, the Vientiane Action Programme, and other relevant decisions.

The APSC aims to create a community that portrays the following characteristics: a rules-based community of shared values and norms; a cohesive, peaceful, stable and resilient region with shared responsibility for comprehensive security, and a dynamic and outward-looking region in an increasingly integrated and interdependent world.

ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community Blueprint[edit]

It was also during the 14th ASEAN Summit that the governments of ASEAN adopted the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community Blueprint (ASCC).[143] The ASCC envisions an "ASEAN Community that is people-centered and socially responsible with a view to achieving enduring solidarity and unity among the nations and peoples of ASEAN by forging a common identity and building a caring and sharing society which is inclusive and harmonious where the well-being, livelihood, and welfare of the peoples are enhanced." Among its focus areas are human development, social welfare and protection, social justice and rights, ensuring environmental sustainability, building the ASEAN identity, and narrowing the development gap.

One Market Economy[edit]

The ASEAN Integration 2015 will see member-nations converge with one market economy, where trade is done with less restrictions (like no tariffs). The business playing field is flowing with goods (raw materials and products) and services (manpower). Nationalities are given a wide array of product choices which range from low end to high end. The integration encourages competition (showcasing the best) and complementarity (providing unique products).

Member-nations will place the right infrastructure to keep up with the fast changing ASEAN economic landscape. It also poses challenges, especially to member-nations like the Philippines whose economy is starting to boom. Journalist-businessman Wilson Lee Flores in his column titled Bull Market, Bull Sheet interviewed tycoons and identified different challenges that ASEAN businessmen face. They are the challenge of size or scale (family businesses can survive or flourish by becoming big or remaining small); the challenge of competitive spirit (market players should work harder); the challenge of speed (increase in transactions and productivity and developing new ideas); the challenge of efficiency (investment in technology and human resources); and the challenge of having a global mindset (thinking the international way).

Lessening the vulnerabilities of Phl "to foreign competition and exposure to market risks" is also the concern of Rafael Alunan III in his article "2015: Asean Integration, ready or not?." The sectors which will be affected are the agribusiness and manufacturing industries. This is extra challenging to the agricultural industry which has to work double time in achieving its self-sufficiency status and surplus growth for export.

An article published by the Viet Nam News echoed some of the challenges and opportunities that Vietnam has to face in preparation for the AEC. The article said that the deputy head of the Import-Export Department under the Ministry of Industry and Trade, Tran Thanh Hai, was concerned about the local enterprises' lack of knowledge of the AEC. It was said that 80% of local enterprises surveyed acknowledged that they have little information about the interests and challenges available for them in the ASEAN market. The article also stated what the general secretary of Viet Nam Steel Association, Chu Duc Khai, said that most of the local enterprises lack information about doing business in the ASEAN market and that they did not have the chance to study the ASEAN market and have only exported small amount of steel to ASEAN countries. Another challenge for Vietnam, as the article cited, would be the need to compete with other countries in the ASEAN market to export raw products since the country had mainly exported raw products.[144]

The Asian Development Bank also has its doubts on Cambodia's ability to meet the ASEAN Economic Community deadline for 2015. The leading economist of ADB, Jayant Menon, said that Cambodia needs to speed up its customs reform and to press ahead with automating processes to reduce trade costs and minimise the opportunities for corruption and be ready for the implementation of its National Single Window by 2015.[145]


The conduct of the 2nd BIMP-EAGA and IMT-GT Trade Fair and Business Leaders Conference on 22–26 October 2014 in Davao City, Philippines, signified the renewed commitment of the four member countries namely, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Philippines (BIMP) to further the cause of the East ASEAN Growth Area (EAGA) co-operation as a model for the 2015 ASEAN Integration.

In the Conference, Deputy Secretary General of ASEAN for the ASEAN Economic Community, His Excellency, Dr. Lim Hong Hin, said that the convergence of the BIMP-EAGA and Indonesia Malaysia Thailand –Growth Triangle (IMT-GT) will amplify the subregions’ full potential and maximise its initial gain towards greater engagement in the larger ASEAN community.

BIMP-EAGA was proposed in 1992 by then Philippine President Fidel V. Ramos as a major economic initiative in ASEAN. The idea of expanding the economic co-operation among the border areas of Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines was supported by the leaders of the three countries which eventually led to the creation of BIMP-EAGA launched on 24 March 1994 in Davao City, Mindanao, Philippines. The subregion covers a land-area of 1.54 million square kilometres and a population of 70 million.[146]

The vision of the BIMP-EAGA initiative is to realise socially acceptable and sustainable economic development and the full participation of the sub region in the ASEAN development process.

Dr. Lim Hong Hin further explained that BIMP-EAGA and IMT will facilitate the implementation of regional initiatives and elevate new initiatives for regional wide implementation while the ASEAN will provide the regional context, goals, framework which could serve as guide for subregional initiatives.

The improved regional-subregional collaborations will spur trade, investment and SME development through enhanced backward linkages, production system and forward linkages. The convergence will also facilitate the completion of region wide infrastructure projects such as the Sumatra Port Development, Melaka-Pekan Baru Power Interconnection and Sumatra Toll Roads Project.

The subregions’ convergence will create synergy in transport facilitation by forging Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Cross Border Trade Arrangement and BIMP-EAGA Cross Border Arrangement. Promote clustering and branding through collaborative tourism promotion, tailored agro-based industries strategies and addressing environmental issues.

The greater co-ordination among the subregions, maximising synergy with the full participation of the stakeholders will ensure equitable economic benefits of the ASEAN countries facing the challenge of globalisation.[147]

2020 ASEAN Banking Integration Framework (ABIF)

As the flow of goods, services, investment, capital and skilled labour between countries are liberalised with the ASEAN Economic Integration in 2015, the need arises for ASEAN banking institutions to accommodate and expand its services to a greater intra-ASEAN market.

While the ASEAN financial Integration isn’t going to take effect until 2020, experts from the financial services industry have already forecasted a shaky economic transition, especially for smaller players in the banking and financial services industry.

Two separate reports by credit-rating firm Standard & Poor entitled "Asean Financial Integration: The Long Road to Bank Consolidation" and "The Philippines’ Banking System: The Good, the Bad and the Ambivalent." respectively, outlined the challenges ASEAN financial institutions are facing as they prepare for the 2020 banking integration.

The Philippines, with its overcrowded banking sector for example is among the ASEAN-member countries who are forecasted to feel the most pressure as the integration welcomes tighter competition with the entry of bigger, more established foreign banks.[148]

To lessen the impact of this consolidation, countries with banking sectors considered smaller by global standards must expand regionally. S&P in a follow up report recently cited the Philippines for "shoring up its network bases and building up capital ahead of the banking integration – playing defence and strengthening their domestic networks.’ [148]

The AEC Scorecard[edit]

To track the progress of the AEC, the AEC Scorecard, a compliance tool developed based on the EU Internal Market Scorecard, was adopted by ASEAN.[141] This regional economic scorecard is the only scorecard in effect [149] and is expected to serve as an unbiased assessment tool to measure the extent of integration among its members and the economic health of the region. It is expected to provide relevant information about regional priorities and in this way foster productive, inclusive and sustainable growth. Moreover, scores create incentives for improvement by highlighting what is working and what is not.[150]

The AEC Scorecard is also a compliance tool that makes it possible to monitor the implementation of ASEAN agreements and the achievement of milestones indicated in the AEC Strategic Schedule. The Scorecard outlines specific actions that must be undertaken by ASEAN collectively and by its member states individually to establish an AEC by 2015.[150]

To date, two official scorecards have been published, one in 2010[151] and the other in 2012.[152] According to the AEC Scorecard 2012, the implementation rates of AEC’s four primary objectives: (a) single market and production base; (b) competitive economic region; (c) equitable economic development; and (d) integration into the global economy were 65.9 percent, 67.9 percent, 66.7 percent, and 85.7 percent, respectively, with 187 out of 277 measures being fully implemented by 2011.[141]

The AEC Scorecard is purely quantitative. It only examines whether an ASEAN member state has performed the AEC task or not. The more "yes" answers, the higher the AEC Scorecard score.[149]

While Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand have eliminated 99.65 percent of their tariff lines, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam have decreased tariffs on 98.86 percent of their lines to the 0-5 percent tariff range in 2010, and are projected to eliminate tariffs on these goods by 2015, with the ability to do so for a few import duty lines until 2018.[153]

According to Lim Hng Kiang, Singapore's Minister for Trade and Industry, ASEAN was already the seventh largest economy in the world and the third largest in Asia in 2013, estimated at USD2.3 trillion. A recent study by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited has projected that five of the top 15 manufacturing locations in the world will be in ASEAN by 2018. Furthermore, by 2050, ASEAN is also expected to be the fourth-largest economy in the world (after the European Union, United States and China). - [153]

The AEC also envisions free flow of overseas labour. However, certain receiving countries of foreign workers would require the latter to take licensing examinations on those territories to practice their professions. This is regardless of whether or not they have secured a professional license from their home countries.[154]

Singapore is the major ASEAN destination for skilled migrants from other ASEAN countries, mostly from Malaysia and the Philippines. Total employment in Singapore doubled between 1992 and 2008 from 1.5 million to three million, and the number of foreign workers almost tripled, from fewer than 400,000 to almost 1.1 million. High-skilled foreign talents (customer service, nursing, engineering, IT) earn at least US$2,000 a month and with a credential (usually a college degree) receive S Passes, employment passes, including an EP-1 for those earning more than US$7,000 a month, EP-2 for those earning US$3,500—7,000 a month, and EP-3 for those earning US$2,500–3,500 a month.[155]

However in the recent years, the Singapore government has been slowly cutting down the number of foreign workers to challenge companies in upgrading their hiring qualifications and offer more jobs for local residents. Nonetheless, the International Monetary Fund has warned that the Singapore policy of reducing the number of foreign talents could hurt the country's economic potential growth and lower its competitiveness.[156]

Roadmap for the Integration of ASEAN in Finance[edit]

The Roadmap for the Integration of ASEAN in Finance is the latest regional initiative, which aims to strengthen regional self -help and support mechanisms. The implementation of the Roadmap will contribute to the realisation of the ASEAN Economic Community that was launched by the ASEAN Leaders in October 2003 in Bali. The AEC is the end-goal of economic integration as outlined in the ASEAN Vision 2020 and the Bali Concord II to establish a single market and production base, characterised by the free movement of goods, services, investment, and a freer flow of capital. The AEC will also facilitate the movement of businessmen, skilled labour, and talents within the region. As in the EU, adoption of an ASEAN common currency when the conditions are ripe could be the final stage of the ASEAN Economic Community. Under the Roadmap, approaches and milestones have been identified in areas deemed crucial to finance and monetary integration, namely (a) capital market development, (b) capital account liberalisation, (c) financial services liberalisation and (d) ASEAN currency co-operation. Capital market development entails promoting institutional capacity, including the legal and regulatory framework, as well as the facilitation of greater cross-border collaboration, linkages and harmonisation between capital markets in the region. Orderly capital account liberalisation will be promoted with adequate safeguards against volatility and systemic risks. To expedite the process of financial services liberalisation, ASEAN has agreed on a positive list modality and adopted milestones to facilitate negotiations. Currency co-operation would involve exploration of possible currency arrangements, including an ASEAN currency payment system for trade in local goods to reduce the demand for US dollars and help promote stability of regional currencies, such as by settling intra-ASEAN trade using regional currencies.[55]

While in the offing of an ASEAN common currency, the leaders of the members estates of ASEAN in November 1999 have agreed to create the establishment of currency swaps and repurchase agreements as a credit line against future financial shocks. In May 2000, the finance minister of the ASEAN agreed through the "Chiang Mai Initiative" to plan for closer monetary and financial co-operation.[157] The "Chiang Mai Initiative" or CMI, named after the City of Chiang Mai in Thailand, has two components: an expanded ASEAN Swap Arrangement and a network of bilateral swap arrangements among ASEAN countries, China, Japan and the Republic of Korea. The ASEAN Swap Arrangement or ASA preceded the regional financial crisis. ASA was originally established by the ASEAN central bank and monetary authorities of the five founding members of ASEAN with a view to help countries meet temporary liquidity problems. An expanded ASA now includes all ten ASEAN countries with an expanded facility of US$1 billion. In recognition of the economic interdependence of East Asia, which has a combined foreign exchange reserves amounting to about US$1 trillion, a network of bilateral swap arrangements and repurchase agreements among ASEAN countries, China, Japan and the Republic of Korea has been agreed upon. The supplementary facility aims to provide temporary financing for members which may be in balance-of-payments difficulties. In 200, 16 bilateral swap arrangements (BSAs) have been successfully concluded with a combined amount of about US$35.5 billion.[158] The original CMI was signed on 9 December 2009 which took effect on 20 March 2014, while the amended version, the multilateralisation of CMI (CMIM), was on 17 July 2014. CMIM is a multilateral currency swap arrangement with the total size of US$240 billion, governed by a single contractual agreement, while the CMI is a network of bilateral swap arrangements among the "Plus Three" and ASEAN countries authorities. In addition, an independent regional surveillance unit called the ASEAN+3 Macroeconomic Research Office (AMRO) was established to monitor and analyse regional economies and support the CMIM decision-making process.[158] The amendments will effectively allow access of the ASEAN+3 member countries and Hong Kong to an enhanced CMIM package, which includes, among others the doubling of the fund size from US$120 billion to US$240 billion, an increase in the level of access not linked to an International Monetary Fund program from 20 percent to 30 percent and the introduction of a crisis prevention facility. These amendments are expected to fortify CMIM as the region’s financial safety net in the event of any potential or actual liquidity difficulty.[159] The ASEAN+3 Macroeconomic Research Office (AMRO) will serve as the independent regional surveillance unit of the CMIM. The establishment of AMRO will ensure timely monitoring and analysis of the ASEAN+3 economies, which will in turn aid in the early detection of risks, swift implementation of remedial actions, and effective decision-making of the CMIM. In particular, the AMRO will, during peace time, conduct annual consultations with individual member economies and on this basis, prepare quarterly consolidated reports on the macroeconomic assessment of the ASEAN+3 region and individual member countries. On the other hand, the AMRO will, during crisis time, prepare recommendations on any swap request based on its macroeconomic analysis of the swap requesting member and monitor the use and impact of funds once any swap request is approved. AMRO was officially incorporated as a company limited by guarantee in Singapore on 20 April 2011 and its office is located at the Monetary Authority of Singapore complex in Singapore. Governance of AMRO is being exercised by the Executive Committee (EC) and its operational direction by the Advisory Panel (AP). AMRO is currently headed by Dr. Yoichi Nemoto of Japan, who is serving his second 2-year term until 26 May 2016.[158] Stability in the financial system is a precondition to maintain the momentum of ASEAN economic integration. In turn, the more ASEAN economies become integrated, the more feasible it is to adopt an ASEAN single currency, which is expected to reinforce even further stability and integration in Southeast Asia.[55]

Narrowing the Development Gap (NDG)[edit]

Narrowing the Development Gap (NDG) is ASEAN’s framework for addressing various forms of disparities among and within Member States where pockets of underdevelopment exist. Under NDG, ASEAN has continued co-ordinating closely with other subregional co-operation frameworks in the region (e.g., BIMP-EAGA, IMT-GT, GMS, Mekong programmes), viewing them as "equal partners in the development of regional production and distribution networks" in the AEC, and as a platform to "mainstream social development issues in developing and implementing projects," in the context of the ASCC.[160]

The six-year IAI Work Plans have been developed to assist the CLMV countries as well as ASEAN's other sub-regions to ensure that the economic wheels of their economies move at an accelerated pace. IAI Work Plan I was implemented from 2002 to 2008, prior to the development of the Roadmap for an ASEAN Community (2009-2015). IAI Work Plan II (2009-2015) supports the goals of the ASEAN Community and is composed of 182 prescribed actions, which includes studies, training programmes and policy implementation support conducted through projects supported by ASEAN-6 countries, and ASEAN’s Dialogue partners and external parties. The IAI Work Plan is patterned after and supports the key programme areas in the three ASEAN Community Blueprints: ASEAN Political-Security Community Blueprint, ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint and ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community Blueprint.

The IAI Task Force, composed of representatives of the Committee of Permanent Representatives and its working group from all ten ASEAN member states, is in charge of providing general advice and policy guidelines and directions in the design and implementation of the IAI Work Plan. All 10 ASEAN Member States are represented in the IAI Task Force, with the Task Force chaired by representatives of the four CLMV countries. Chairmanship is rotated annually in alphabetical order. The chair for 2014 is Cambodia.

ASEAN Secretariat - IAI and NDG Division

The ASEAN Secretariat, in particular through the IAI and NDG Division, supports the implementation and management of the IAI Work Plan and coordinates activities related to sub-regional frameworks. This includes servicing meetings, assisting in the formulation, implementation, monitoring and reporting of projects, resource mobilisation and overall operational co-ordination among various IAI&NDG-related stakeholders. The Division works closely with the Dialogue Partners and international agencies to develop strategies and programmes to assist in promoting and implementing IAI and NDG activities in ASEAN.[160]

Double Digit Growth for Franchising Sector[edit]

The franchising industry in the Philippines eyed strong growth as it begins expanding to international markets.[161]

There are currently 12 Association of Filipino Franchisers, Inc. (AFFI) members who are global franchisors with 76 overseas outlets.

"The upcoming ASEAN 2015 integration is expected to act as a further impetus for AFFI members to go overseas. The integration opens up the region’s capital and labour markets to competition. This is expected to lead an influx of foreign franchise brands into the country," said AFFI.[161]

AFFI President Victor Fernando announced that there will be a Franchisee Conference this year for the first time as part of the Filipino Franchise Show which will be held on 3 to 5 October 2014. The Franchisee Conference will be a venue to empower, recognise, and showcase the best practices of franchisees. Representatives from ASEAN countries are invited to the conference to share their franchisee experiences.[162]

Fernando said that Filipino companies should try to be at par with their neighbours not just within the region but also globally. Ricardo Cuna, Chairman of the 2014 Filipino Franchise Show, said that the ASEAN integration is more of a challenge for Filipino entrepreneurs to compete worldwide.[162]

The Filipino Franchise Show will be held at the World Trade Center with this year’s show bears the theme "ASEAN Integration through franchising." The event will be composed of exhibits of franchises, product and services of support industries, regional products and services, retailers and distributors. The Filipino ASEAN Franchise Conference is also a part of the show along with the ASEAN Pavilion and other special events.[162]

Food security[edit]

ASEAN member nations recognise the importance of strengthening food security to maintain stability and prosperity in the region. The World Food Summit of 1996 defined food security as existing "when all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life".[163]

Part of the aim for ASEAN integration is collectively achieve food security via trade in rice and maize. Trade facilitation measures and the harmonisation/equivalency of food regulation and control standards will reduce the cost of trade in food products. While specialisation and revealed comparative and competitive indices point to complementarities between trade patterns among the ASEAN member countries, intra-ASEAN trade in agriculture is quite small. However, integration could address this problem.[164] The MARKET project will provide flexible and demand-driven support to the ASEAN Secretariat, while bringing more private-sector and civil-society input into regional agriculture policy dialogue. By building an environment that reduces barriers to trade, ASEAN trade will increase, thereby decreasing the risk of another food price crisis.[165]

As ASEAN moves towards an integrated community in 2015 and beyond, food security should be an integral part of the ASEAN community building agenda and deserves more attention.[166]

Implications for supply chain management (SCM)[edit]

A study by Aggarwal and Park found that the greatest impediment that the SCM industry faced is in customs procedures and inspections, which include time consuming documentation requirements, and different classification of goods in different countries.[167] Land transportation barriers continue to exist owing to regulations on the operation of trucks in cross-boarder and in-country transportation. In ASEAN, Singapore ranked "high" in logistics friendliness. Brunei and Thailand were ranked "good". The Philippines, Cambodia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Lao PDR, and Malaysia were "average" and Indonesia "weak".

The biggest challenge and opportunity for the SCM industry in gearing up for AEC 2015 is the industrial shift from manufacturing to services. With the services sector growing rapidly and accounting for an ever larger share of the GDP of countries in the region, services liberalisation is crucial.

The manufacturing sector can improve in transportation, storage, customs, and payment services. Countries like Singapore and Indonesia, have some of the highest Internet penetration rates in Asia, whereas Cambodia and Myanmar have very low rates (in Myanmar, only one-third of the population has electricity).[168] The supply chain industry and member governments must pool resources to enhance connectivity.

The need for ASEAN supply chain integration[edit]

Southeast Asian economic integration in 2016 will create a competitive market of 600 million people with a combined GDP of US$2.1 trillion, solid growth, low manufacturing costs, and a rising appetite for consumer goods across 10 countries.

The ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) vision calls for improved logistics infrastructure, manufacturing incentives, fewer restrictions on movement of talent, more tariff reductions, and streamlined administrative procedures. There will be a free flow of goods, services, and investment capital and improved access to skilled labour.

Southeast Asia has long been a prime manufacturing base. But the heart of its potential today lies in its emerging domestic market with increasingly affluent consumers, and as a source of highly educated, highly productive workers.

However, achieving the new vision for ASEAN will depend on developing world-class supply chain capabilities. Inconsistent quality and availability of transport infrastructure today impedes the flow of goods and adds significant cost to logistics operations. Cutting-edge supply chain expertise can address some of these challenges and spur growth.[169]

A complex web of integrated production facilities has emerged in the region, most notably in the auto industry. Growth in intra-Asian trade has promoted vertical specialisation. More foreign investment coupled with increasing trade in intermediate goods is expected to further strengthen ASEAN's manufacturing base and expand growth.

Filling the transport gaps: Over the past decade, the number of vehicles has doubled in countries such as Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Myanmar, but development of highways and related infrastructure has lagged. Road quality and capacity varies greatly. Singapore boasts fully paved roads, while in Cambodia and Laos fewer than 10% of highways are paved. About 98% of the 38,400-kilometre Trans-Asian Highway has been built, but critical links are still missing and the quality of some roads is questionable. ASEAN still drives on both the left- and right-hand sides of the road, with limited transfer stations at borders to allow for transfer of trucks and their loads between different road systems.

The development of new rail links has been limited. Safe and properly constructed dual-track rail lines could greatly relieve overstretched road networks. However, efficient cargo movement is overshadowed by glamorous megaprojects such as high-speed passenger trains, even though low-cost airlines today move people more cheaply without the infrastructure burden.

Maritime transport is also crucial and 47 ports in nine countries form the backbone of the network. But aside from Singapore, Thailand, and Malaysia, the remaining gateway ports vary greatly in terms of cargo-handling capabilities. In Vietnam, for example, seaway transport is very cost-efficient, but all port and loading facilities are congested.

Many ASEAN countries have made improvements in areas such as air cargo for perishable exports, and facilities generally are adequate for current traffic levels in capital cities. However, general and perishable freight-handling in some airports does not meet the required standards. If improved, it could offer huge opportunities for exporters in regional locations.

Supply chain weaknesses: Smart planning tools such as transport management systems combined with global positioning tools can help to reduce freight transport operating costs. When combined with the latest inventory and warehouse management systems, these systems can control the movement and storage of materials across the entire supply chain.

However, the high initial cost of staff training often deters smaller logistics firms from investing in these technologies. Disparities between transport networks also are a drawback. In some countries, such as Indonesia and Vietnam, telecoms infrastructure in rural areas is weak, making cargo tracking difficult.

Another weak link in regional supply chains is a lack of trained and capable human capital. This problem is not unique to the region, but Southeast Asia is starting from a lower base in that it lacks the education and research centres seen in developed economies. Enterprises that are unable to design, build, and manage world-class supply chains are at a serious competitive disadvantage. Southeast Asian companies must develop supply chain solutions geared to the region's special demands to compete effectively; copying Western best practices is not a viable option.


ASEAN co-operation in tourism was formalised in 1976, following formation of Sub-Committee on Tourism (SCOT) under the ASEAN Committee on Trade and Tourism. The 1st ASEAN Tourism Forum was held on 18–26 October 1981 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. In 1986, ASEAN Promotional Chapters for Tourism (APCT) were established in Hong Kong, West Germany, UK, Australia/New Zealand, Japan, and North America.[170]

Tourism has been one of the key growth sectors in ASEAN and has proven resilient amid economic challenges globally. The wide array of tourist attractions across the region has drawn 81 million tourists to ASEAN in 2011, up by 30% compared to 62 million tourists in 2007. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, tourism directly contributed 4.4% to ASEAN's GDP and employment (3.2%) in 2011. In addition, the sector accounted for an estimated 8% of total capital investment in the region.[171]

On January 2012, ASEAN tourism ministers called for the development of a marketing strategy. This marketing strategy represents the consensus of the ASEAN National Tourism Organisations (NTOs) on important strategic marketing directions for the ASEAN region moving forwards to 2015 based on objectives agreed to by all of the NTOs.[172]

The objectives of the ASEAN Tourism marketing strategy are:

1. To ensure an increased number of international visitors travelling to Southeast Asia and visiting more than one country. (It is recognised that the objective of each country is to increase visitation to its own nation. This strategy is designed to increase visitation to more than one ASEAN country thereby adding value to the efforts of the individual NTOs).

2. To determine how the ASEAN NTOs, using their resources, can contribute to the overall positioning of the region as a preferred destination. This will require the NTOs to effectively leverage their existing marketing and promotional activities towards the regional efforts.

3. To ensure that the power of tourism as a development tool is recognised and incorporated into a marketing approach that will be directed at meeting specific social, economic and cultural goals.

4. To guide budgetary decisions related to positioning the region and various dimensions of the travel experience.

5. While the intention of the marketing strategy is to attract visitors to the region it is also important that the NTOs work effectively together to promote travel within the region under the theme "ASEAN for ASEAN". This objective recognises that visitors within the region are a significant source of economic development and that people from ASEAN will play a significant role in meeting the overall strategy of the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity that encourages greater intra-ASEAN people mobility.

There are a number of emerging trends in visitor motivations and behaviour that must be taken into account in developing a successful marketing strategy for Southeast Asia.

  1. Experiential Travel
  2. The Green Movement
  3. Tourism as experience and memory
  4. Demand for public programming
  5. Creative Industries and Tourism
  6. Redefining Backpacking
  7. The Three New Ss (Sun and Sea and Sand)
  8. Increasing importance of interest/Niche/Activity Based Tourism
  9. The Growing trend in Cities as Attractions
 10. Voluntourism

As of 2012, it is estimated to account for 4.6 percent of ASEAN GDP and 10.9 percent when taking into account all indirect contributions. It directly employs 9.3 million people, or 3.2 percent of total employment, and indirectly supports some 25 million jobs.[173] This year, Malaysia attracted 25 million; Thailand, 22.3 million; Singapore, 14.4 million; Indonesia, 8 million; Vietnam, 6.8 million; Philippines, 4.7 million.

In the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index (TTCI) 2013 report, Singapore placed 1st, Malaysia placed 8th, Thailand placed 9th, Indonesia placed 12th, Brunei placed 13th, Vietnam placed 16th, Philippines placed 17th, and Cambodia placed 20th in the top destination of travellers in the Asia Pacific region.[174]

All ten ASEAN countries already collaborate actively to increase tourism in the region. As Singapore serves as a good access node in the regional tourism network, the Singapore Tourism Board hope to continue to strengthen co-operation among ASEAN members to harness the tourism potential of the region. Such collaboration is significant to the growth of the regional tourism industry. One example is the potential of the region's cruise industry. Southeast Asia's diverse culture, landscapes and cuisines, coupled with its year-round good climate and presence of many islands, adds to its ability to become a viable cruising destination that will draw passengers from the region and beyond. As the lead coordinator for the ASEAN Cruise Development initiative, the Singapore Tourism Board will continue to work closely with the rest of ASEAN to develop the immense potential of the cruise industry in the region.[175]

Malaysia is playing pivotal role in promoting intra-ASEAN tourism. They have been promoting short haul travel, encouraging travellers to travel in a more affordable and easier way to our neighbours in ASEAN. In this respect, Malaysia has introduced the 3-2-1 Heritage Tour package, three UNESCO heritage sites (Melaka, Penang, and Borobudur) in two countries (Malaysia and Indonesia) at one price.[176]

For this purpose, the ministers and tourism authorities of Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia and the Secretary of Tourism of the Philippines have expressed their intention to collaborate with relevant government agencies and other stakeholders to facilitate travel in the region by developing a common smart visa system, and have signed the "Statement of Intent on SMART Visa" at the 22nd World Economic Forum on East Asia. The meeting is taking place in Nay Pyi Taw from 5–7 June 2013.[177]

Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, Myanmar, and Cambodia met at a ministerial retreat in Ho Chi Minh City, where dialogues on easing travel barriers and issuing a single visa topped the agenda. ACMECS, which stands for Ayeyawadi – Chao Phraya – Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy, is a political, economic, and cultural organisation among the five countries. The Ayeyawadi, Chao Phraya, and Mekong are rivers that greatly affect the socio-economic development of the involved nations. The countries have taken a step closer to the plan, with Thailand and Cambodia running a pilot single visa policy, under which an international tourist obtaining a visa to enter Thailand is allowed to enter Cambodia, and vice versa.[178]

Moreover, on 18 September 2014 in Bangkok, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) launched the "ASEAN to Thailand" project with the key objective of enhancing the recognition of Thailand as an attractive and fun place to visit, and as a "dream destination" in the heart of ASEAN. As part of the "ASEAN to Thailand" project, TAT will be inviting members of the media from ASEAN countries to take part in a specially-organised familiarisation trip that will showcase the old towns in the central provinces of Ayutthaya, Ang Thong, and Suphan Buri, some of which have played vital roles in the history of the ASEAN region.[179]

The Philippine Department of Tourism (DOT) commenced a plan to fully comply with the demands of ASEAN Integration 2015 thru the implementation of the ASEAN Mutual Recognition Arrangement on Tourism Professionals (ASEAN MRA-TP). The agreement promotes opportunity for tourism professionals to work in various tourism-related fields across ASEAN regions. Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez Jr. said the arrangement lays the foundation for the certification of skills and qualifications of working tourism professionals from different ASEAN countries. "Once fully integrated in 2015, ASEAN-certified tourism professionals who pass the common competency standards may find employment in various divisions of labor that are common across various sectors of tourism in member countries", he said.[180]

Another preparation taken by the Philippines for the ASEAN Integration 2015 is thru its new slogan, "Visit Philippines 2015" (VPY 2015). To gear up the country's tourism potentials, VPY 2015 endeavours to lure and entice ASEAN regions, as well as neighbouring continents, to visit the Philippines which boasts 7,107 islands. Tourism Secretary Jimenez said they are now drafting the calendar of activities and expects to come up with the concrete program of activities before the middle of the year. "We are planning to have every quarter one major entertainment event that would attract not only domestic but also international tourists to visit the Philippines just to watch the event," he said.[181]

The preparation also coincides with the Philippines’ hosting of various meetings and conferences for eco-tourism activities which includes the ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF) in 2016. Jimenez reported that in the recently concluded ATF held in Sarawak, Malaysia, ASEAN ministers pledged to step up measures to realise the planned regional economic integration by 2015. In that meeting, Jimenez said he reported on the progress made by the Philippine government on the common visa, citing the readiness of the Bureau of Immigration (BI) to honour the visas extended by all member countries to those travelling to the country. On the VPY 2015, he told the ATF membership that "In this connection, and to coincide with the holding of the APEC Ministerial Meetings and Leaders’ Summit in 2015, the Philippines has declared 2015 as Visit Philippines Year."[182]

ASEAN communication master plan[edit]

As ASEAN moves towards the realisation of the ASEAN Community in 2015, its Foreign Ministers launched the ASEAN Communication Master Plan (ACPM) on 11 November 2014 at the capital city of Myanmar, Nay Pyi Taw.[183]

This is the committee's response to the growing importance for ASEAN "to be able to speak to its internal and external stakeholders with clear messages, and with one voice, using traditional and non-traditional means of communication."

The ACPM provides a framework in communicating the character, structure and overall vision of ASEAN and the ASEAN Community to key audiences within the region and globally.[184] The said plan seeks to demonstrate the relevance and benefits of the ASEAN through fact-based and compelling communications, recognising that the ASEAN Community is unique and different from other country integration models.[185]

In his opening remarks during the launch, current Secretary-General of ASEAN, H.E. Le Luong Minh stressed the need for the peoples of ASEAN "to understand what it means to be part of an integrated region where there are shared, equitable opportunities for personal, business and community growth." [186]

Overarching message[edit]

The ACMP articulates an overarching message for ASEAN as "ASEAN: A Community of Opportunities." This messages focuses on instilling a sense of belonging and identity among its citizens, and highlights that regional integration brings new opportunities to the people of ASEAN and the broader global community.

To further articulate this message, the ACMP encourages the use of examples of real life, people-based benefits, which will help create lively storytelling and stress the tangible benefits felt by people and communities.[187]

Communications initiatives[edit]

With the realisation of the ASEAN Community, the ACMP recognises the need for more extensive, ongoing communication about its benefits within ASEAN, as well as to global audiences, as ASEAN communicates its place in the world economy.[188]

  • Celebrating the Establishment of ASEAN Community - focuses on creating anticipation and excitement on the significance of the establishment of the ASEAN community
  • A Year of Activities: ASEAN Community 2015 - involves conducting community activities, media relations, business forums, social media, storytelling, online initiatives, at both local and ASEAN-wide levels, to celebrate the landmark realisation of the ASEAN community in 2015
  • Spokesperson Programme - determines the need for a spokesperson in each member state to achieve informed media coverage and commentary about ASEAN, helping to establish a clear perspective and greater understanding of the opportunities provided by the ASEAN community
  • Traditional Mass Media Programme - taps TV and radio as potent media, especially in semi-rural and rural areas, in expanding awareness on the ASEAN community
  • Online Communications Initiative - determines new online procedures for establishing and maintaining web content, including search engine optimisation, metakeyword tags and other online optimisation techniques, in recognition of the value of disseminating information through online channels
  • Social Media Engagement Programme - uses ASEAN's presence on a number of social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and Google+) to engage relevant stakeholders in support of ACMP's goal of introducing increased information on ASEAN to its member states and the world
  • Education Curricula Initiative - calls for a structured education module which will serve as a means of equipping the younger generation with extensive knowledge of the ASEAN community
  • Third Party Advocate and Commentators Initiative - validate ASEAN initiatives by third parties provides compelling, tangible evidence of ASEAN benefits
  • Content Development Programme - ensures regular and consistent flow of information across multiple channels about the ASEAN community
  • Polling of ASEAN Awareness and Favourability - measures effectiveness among audiences for its programmes to be methodically appraised and adjusted where necessary
  • Special Planning Initiative: ASEAN’s 50th Anniversary - serves as celebration of achievements for the ASEAN peoples, as well as an opportunity to stake out plans for further advances for the regional bloc
  • Organisation of the Communications Function - notes the need for strong communications and outreach function to expand and deepen its communications reach to members of the ASEAN community with each other and the global community
  • Pillar Communications and ASEAN Connectivity Communications Initiatives - supports the continuation of audience outreach activities by each of the ASEAN community pillars and by ASEAN connectivity, and encourages the development of annual communication plans to support these activities
  • ASEAN Member States Communications Initiatives - supports the development of local communication plans in each member state that support the overarching message of "ASEAN: A Community of Opportunities."

ACMP development[edit]

The ACMP was developed by the Committee of Permanent Representatives, with support from the Government of Japan through the Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund (JAIF).[189][190]

According to its manual, the ACMP also envisions harnessing the growing sense of collective ASEAN mutual support and empowerment during times of natural disaster when member states have bonded to provide humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.[189]

ASEAN ICT Master Plan 2015[edit]


ICT will be a key enabler in the ASEAN's and economic integration. Be developing next generation ICT infrastructure and skilled human capital, promoting content and innovative industries, as well as establishing an enabling policy and regulatory environment, ICT will help ASEAN to transform into a single market. Such is envisioned towards achieving the e-ASEAN initiative. e-ASEAN is a collective effort of Southeast nations to encourage and facilitate the growth of e-commerce, promote the utilisation of ICT in social services and government operations, and to narrow the digital divide within the region. In doing so, ASEAN will empower its communities and advance its status as an inclusive and vibrant ICT hub, making ASEAN and ideal region for economic activities.[191]

Strategic thrusts[edit]

  1. Economic transformation
  2. People empowerment and engagement
  3. Innovation
  4. Infrastructure development
  5. Human capital development
  6. Bridging the digital divide [191]

ASEAN ICT awards[edit]

The ASEAN ICT Awards (AICTA) is a project approved by the ASEAN telecommunication ministers. The project is in line with one of the six strategic thrusts as stated in the ASEAN ICT Masterplan (AIM) 2015 under the initiative 3.2 "Promote Innovation and collaborations amongst government, businesses, citizens and other institution".

AICTA seeks to recognise the best ICT achievement among entrepreneurs across the ASEAN region. AICTA aims to be the benchmark for success in innovation and creativity, offering business opportunities and promoting trade relations, thus uplifting the strength of ICT and community awareness of ASEAN both locally and internationally.

The 1st AICTA was introduced in 2012. Brunei Darussalam as the leading country successfully carried out the awards and introduced the first online judging, whereby nominees upload their video presentation via and set up a private account (inter-link) with the AICTA judges. The AICTA judges will view the presentation and submit their scores to the AICTA secretariat.

The 2nd AICTA was successfully completed and was led by Brunei Darussalam in 2013. For the 2nd AICTA, the ASEAN TELSOM introduced a new category in AICTA, "Research and Development". Using the same procedure as the first AICTA for the online judging and final judging. To determine the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place, shortlisted nominees (top three from each category) were told attend the final round judging. Nominees gave their very best presentation in front of the final round AICTA Judges, the TELSOM leaders. The competition concluded with the award ceremony which will be attended by ASEAN member states (AMS) IT ministers, from various government, agencies and industries. Once again AICTA is back again in 2014 and from the last 13th TELMIN, Brunei Darussalam is to lead and continue the successful running of the AICTA.[192]


The objectives of AICTA are:

  1. Develop ASEAN ICT Awards to promote creativity and encourage innovation
  2. Provide incentives for R&D efforts to acknowledge, recognise and reward ICT Innovators
  3. To recognise organisation that have the most appropriate / advancement in the adoption of ICT.
  4. The awards point the direction on the trend and growth of potential ICT product in ASEAN
  5. To further recognise the interplay of ICT in the growing economy of ASEAN
  6. Provide recognition of their products thus create an interest to promote ASEAN ICT products in the international market.[192]

Award Categories[edit]

There are six (6) categories:

  1. The Public Sector Category - This consists of ICT products which are public sector-related, such as e-government.
  2. The Private Sector Category - This consists of ICT products which are private sector-related, such as Industrial Application, e-Logistics and Supply Chain Management, Finance Industry Application, Communication, e-Health, Tourism and Hospitality.
  3. Corporate Social Responsibility Category - This consists of ICT products which support the community in the member state’s society with the aim to promote the rights and needs of particular groups, or to improve the well-being, quality of life and standard of living of the community with the ultimate intent to bridge the digital divide.
  4. Digital Content Category - This consists of products which are related to the process of combining text, sound, pictures, and videos, to create a diversion that holds the attention (entertainment), in the form of multimedia, infotainment, immersion and interaction.
  5. Start-up Company Category - This consists of innovative and potential superior ICT Products developed by an ICT company that is still at the early stage of inception.
  6. Research and Development Category - This consists of ICT products that are being newly researched and created with new knowledge, processes, product and services to meet the demands of the market.[192]

The ASEAN Political-Security Community Blueprint[edit]

The ASEAN Political-Security Community has its genesis of over four decades of close co-operation and solidarity. The ASEAN Heads of States/Governments, at their Summit in Kuala Lumpur in December 1997 envisioned a concert of Southeast Asian nations, outward looking, living in peace, stability and prosperity, bonded together in partnership in dynamic development and in a community of caring societies.

To concretise the ASEAN Vision 2020, the ASEAN Heads of States/Governments adopted the Declaration of ASEAN Concord II (Bali Concord II) in 2003, which establishes an ASEAN Community by 2020. The ASEAN Community consists of three pillars, namely the ASEAN Political- Security Community (APSC), the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) and the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC). During the 12th ASEAN Summit in the Philippines, the ASEAN leaders decided to accelerate the establishment of an ASEAN Community by 2015. By the next summit in Singapore, the ASEAN Charter was signed among leaders, signifying their commitment in intensifying community- building through enhanced regional co-operation and integration. In line with this, they tasked their Ministers and officials to draft the APSC Blueprint, which would be adopted at the 14th ASEAN Summit.

ASEAN defence industry collaboration[edit]

The ASEAN Defense Industry Collaboration (ADIC) was proposed at the 4th ASEAN Defense Ministers' Meeting on 11 May 2010 in Ha Noi, Vietnam.[193] The emergence of this concept was triggered by the fact that majority of the ASEAN member states are regular importers of defence and security equipment. One of the purposes of this concept is to reduce defence imports from non-ASEAN countries by half (i.e., from US$25 billion down to US$12.5 billion a year) and to further develop the defence industry in the region.[194]

The concept was formally adopted during the 5th ASEAN Defense Ministers' Meeting (ADMM) on 19 May 2011 in Jakarta, Indonesia,[195] in line with the ADMM agreement to enhance security co-operation in the following areas: maritime security, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, counter terrorism, and military medicine. Its goal points toward actions that will enhance security in each of the ASEAN member state.[196][197]

Its main focus is to boost the capacity of ASEAN industrially and technologically consistent with the principles of flexibility, non-binding, and voluntary participation among ASEAN member states.[198][199] The concept revolves around education and capability building program to develop the skills and capabilities of manpower, sharing in the production of capital for defence equipment, components, and spares and the provision of repair and maintenance services to address all the defence and security needs of each country. It also aims to develop the defence trade in the region by encouraging ASEAN member states to participate in the intra-ASEAN defence trade and support trade shows and exhibitions.[200]

ADIC aims to establish a strong defence industry relying on the local capabilities of each ASEAN member state, and limit annual procurement from original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) outside the region.[201] Countries like the USA, Germany, Russia, France, Italy, UK, China, South Korea, Israel, and the Netherlands are among the major suppliers to ASEAN.[202]

Military expenditures in ASEAN reached US$35.5 billion in 2013 (excluding Brunei and Myanmar), which surpassed the 2004 figure (US$14.4 billion) by 147% and is expected to exceed US$40 billion by 2016.[203] Factors affecting the increase in military budget are economic growth, ageing equipment, and the plan to strengthen the establishment of defence industry in the region.[204]

There are challenges to the defence collaboration effort in the ASEAN; the unequal level of capabilities among ASEAN member states in the field of defence industry, and the lack of established defence trade among them.[196]

Prior to the adoption of the ADIC concept, the status of defence industry base in each of the ASEAN member state was at disparate level.[196] Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand are among the top ASEAN member states with established defence industry base. But, even these four countries possess different levels of capacities, while the rest of the remaining member states like Philippines, Lao PDR, Vietnam, Myanmar, and Cambodia have yet to develop and enhance their capabilities in this aspect.[196][205]

Of the ten ASEAN member states, Singapore and Indonesia are among the most competitive players in the area of defence industry. Indonesia is the only ASEAN member state recognised as one of the top 100 global defence suppliers from 2010-2013.[206][207]

ASEAN member states purchase virtually no defence products from inside ASEAN. Singapore purchases defence products from Germany, France, and Israel, but none from any of the ASEAN member states. Malaysia purchased only 0.49% from ASEAN, Indonesia 0.1%, and Thailand 8.02%.[196]


Non-ASEAN countries have criticised ASEAN for being too soft in its approach to promoting human rights and democracy in the junta-led Burma.[208] Some scholars think that the non-interference has prevented ASEAN efforts in handling the problem of Myanmar, human rights abuse, and haze pollution in the area.[209] Despite global outrage at the military crack-down on unarmed protesters in Yangon, ASEAN has refused to suspend Burma as a member and also rejects proposals for economic sanctions.[210] This has caused concern as the European Union, a potential trade partner, has refused to conduct free trade negotiations at a regional level for these political reasons.[211] International observers view it as a "talk shop",[212] which implies that the organisation is "big on words but small on action".[213][214] However, leaders such as the Philippines' Foreign Affairs Secretary, Alberto Romulo, said it "is a workshop not a talk shop". Others have also expressed similar sentiments.[215]

The head of the International Institute of Strategic Studies – Asia, Tim Huxley, cites the diverse political systems present in the grouping, including many young states, as a barrier to far-reaching co-operation outside the economic sphere. He also asserts that in the absence of an external threat to rally against with the end of the Cold War, ASEAN has begun to be less successful at restraining its members and resolving border disputes such as those between Burma and Thailand and that of Indonesia and Malaysia.[216]

During the 12th ASEAN Summit in Cebu, several activist groups staged anti-globalisation protests.[217] According to the activists, the agenda of economic integration would negatively affect industries in the Philippines and would cause thousands of Filipinos to lose their jobs.[218]

Various groups have also criticized ASEAN for lacking in a more pro-active approach in the South China Sea disputes which China has been conquering slowly since the mid-19th century. The ASEAN approach has now created a 'regional bloc in limbo state' due to the de facto control and de facto veto power of a 'de facto ASEAN member state' of China in the bloc's member states which it has heavily influenced, such as Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, and Myanmar. With the continuation of ASEAN's approach to 'Asia's greatest dispute', which could escalate to a new World War due to Defense Treaties present in claimant members and the presence of heavily militarized nation of China, ASEAN's stance shall remain as a shadow of China unless the bloc's stance shifts to a more concrete move where Southeast Asian regionalism deflects Chinese influences in ASEAN affairs and policies.

ASEAN security blueprint[edit]

The ASEAN Convention on Counter-Terrorism (ACCT) serves as a framework for regional co-operation to counter, prevent, and suppress terrorism and deepen counter-terrorism co-operation.[219]

ACCT was signed by ASEAN leaders in 2007. The sixth ASEAN member state, Brunei, ratified it on 28 April 2011 and on 27 May 2011, the convention came into force. Malaysia became the tenth member state to ratify ACCT on 11 January 2013.[219]

Culture and sport[edit]

The organisation hosts cultural activities in an attempt to further integrate the region. These include sports and educational activities as well as writing awards. Examples of these include the ASEAN University Network, the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity, the ASEAN Outstanding Scientist and Technologist Award, and the Singapore-sponsored ASEAN Scholarship.

ASAIHL or the Association of Southeast Asian Institutions of Higher Learning is a non-governmental organisation founded in 1956 that strives to strengthen higher learning institutions, espescially in teaching, research, and public service, with the intention of cultivating a sense of regional identity and interdependence.

Heritage Parks[edit]

ASEAN Heritage Parks[220] is a list of nature parks launched 1984 and relaunched in 2004. It aims to protect the region's natural treasures. There are now 35 such protected areas, including the Tubbataha Reef Marine Park and the Kinabalu National Park.[221]

ASEAN Heritage Sites

Songs and music[edit]

Southeast Asian Games[edit]

The Southeast Asian Games, commonly known as the SEA Games, is a biennial multi-sport event involving participants from the current 11 countries of Southeast Asia. The games is under regulation of the Southeast Asian Games Federation with supervision by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Olympic Council of Asia.

ASEAN Para Games[edit]

Logo of the ASEAN Para Games.

The ASEAN Para Games is a biennial multi-sport event held after every Southeast Asian Games for athletes with physical disabilities. The games are participated by the 11 countries located in Southeast Asia. The Games, patterned after the Paralympic Games, are played by physically challenged athletes with mobility disabilities, visual disabilities,

Asian Para Games[edit]

The FESPIC Games, also known as the Far East and South Pacific Games for the persons with disability, was the biggest multi-sports games in Asia and South Pacific region. The FESPIC Games were held nine times and bowed out, a success[222] in December 2006 in the 9th FESPIC Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The Games re-emerged as the 2010 Asian Para Games in Guangzhou, China. The 2010 Asian Para Games debuted shortly after the conclusion of the 16th Asian Games, using the same facilities and venue made disability-accessible. The inaugural Asian Para Games, the parallel event for athletes with physical disabilities, is a multi-sport event held every four years after every Asian Games.

Football Championship[edit]

The ASEAN Football Championship is a biennial Football competition organised by the ASEAN Football Federation, accredited by FIFA and contested by the national teams of Southeast Asia nations. It was inaugurated in 1996 as Tiger Cup, but after Asia Pacific Breweries terminated the sponsorship deal, "Tiger" was renamed "ASEAN".

2030 FIFA World Cup bid[edit]

January 2011: As a result of ASEAN Foreign ministers at Lombok meeting, they agreed bid to host the FIFA World Cup in 2030 as a single entity.[223]

May 2011: ASEAN will go ahead with its bid for the FIFA 2030 World Cup. It was a follow up to the agreement reached in January before.[224]

ASEAN competitions[edit]

See also[edit]



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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

ASEAN Summits
ASEAN organisations
ASEAN related websites