The Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN is the worldâ€™s sixth-largest economy and third-largest labor force. It is projected to become the fourth-largest economic bloc by 2030.
Comprised of ten member countries, the ASEAN Economic Community is one of the major markets in the world with a $2.4 trillion economy and a population of 626 million.
The world’s largest economy, the United States, bares that the region is its number one destination of investments in Asia and regards ASEAN member states as â€œincreasingly important diplomatic, economic and security partners.â€
The region is also is being valued as â€œhome to critical global sea lanesâ€ at the center of a very dynamic Asia Pacific region. It sits at the intersection of global flows andit is largely recognized that the ASEAN commands far greater influence on Asia-Pacific trade, political, and security issues than its members could achieve individually. This has driven ASEANâ€™s community building efforts, a work based largely on consultation, consensus, and cooperation.
What is the ASEAN and how was it formed
Half a century ago, on August 8, 1967, the ASEAN was formed byIndonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines to promote economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the Southeast Asian region.The foreign ministers of the five countries signedits founding document, theASEAN Declaration, which also formalized the principles of peace and cooperation to which ASEAN is dedicated.
From the original five member countries, ASEAN has grown to ten members. Â Brunei joined in 1984, shortly after its independence from the United Kingdom while Vietnamwas ASEANâ€™s seventh member in 1995. Laos and Burma were admitted into full membership in July 1997 as ASEAN celebrated its 30thÂ anniversary. Cambodia became its tenth member in 1999.
ASEAN has since matured into a community focused on economic integration and growth, and consensus-building. This is the â€œASEAN Wayâ€ and it has resulted in unprecedented growth.
With the entry into force of the ASEAN Charter in 2008, ASEAN established legal identity as an international organization and took a major step in its community-building process.
ASEANâ€™s Three Pillars
With its vision of forming a regional community, a â€œconcert of Southeast Asian nations, outward looking,Â living in peace, stability and prosperity, bonded together in partnership in dynamic development and in a community of caring societies,â€ the integration of the ASEAN community hasthree key components or pillars, namely: Â (1) the Political-Security Community, (2) Socio-Cultural Community and (3) the Economic Community.
Guided by theASEAN motto, â€œOne Vision, One Identity, One Community,â€ each pillar has a blueprint providing directions through strategic measures for the community from 2016 to 2025.
The ASEAN Economic Community and RCEP
The establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015 was a major milestone in the regional economic integration agenda. Adopted during the 27th ASEAN Summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the AEC Blueprint 2025 charts the future direction of the regionâ€™s economic agenda.
The AEC is built on four interrelated and mutually-reinforcing characteristics. First, it seeks to create a single market and production base through free flow of goods, services, investment, skilled labor and freer flow of capital. Secondly, it helps to create a business-friendly and innovation-supporting regional environment through the adoption of common frameworks, standards and mutual co-operation across many areas. Thirdly, it seeks to achieve equitable economic development through creative initiatives that encourage small and medium enterprises to participate in regional and global value chains. Fourth, it envisions ASEANâ€™s full integration into the global economy.
Broadening the engagement among parties and to enhance Â participation in economic development of the region, ASEAN member states and six states with which ASEAN has existing free trade agreements, (Australia,Â China,Â India,Â Japan,Â South KoreaÂ andÂ New Zealand)established the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
The RCEP is held to have the potential to deliver significant opportunities for businesses given the fact that the 16 participating countries account for almost half of the worldâ€™s population; contribute about 30 per cent of global GDP and over a quarter of world exports.
50th Year of Being One ASEAN
Exactly 110 days from today, the ASEAN celebrates a milestone, which is the golden anniversary of the founding of the association.
Incidentally, the Philippinesâ€™ ASEAN chairmanship coincides with this historic event, the 50th ASEAN Day with the theme: â€œPartnering for Change, Engaging the World.â€
In marking this momentous event, ASEAN national tourism organizations have jointly developed a tourism program under the theme â€œVisit ASEAN@50: Golden Celebrationâ€ with the objectives of commemorating the 50th year and embracing ASEANas a single and united tourism destination. It will highlight ASEANâ€™s best 50 festivals and 50 most unforgettable travel experiences for visitors to enjoy a wide range of diverse destinations and engagements with local communities. (Sonieta D. Labasan)