Asean-US Leaders' Meeting in New York in 2010.
South-East Asia is set to become smaller and more interconnected thanks to an ambitious economic integration plan set to become reality by the end of 2015. The groundwork has been laid, but what exactly does it all mean? Are we ready for real Asean Integration? What’s in it for Malaysia?
For the last two decades, Asean has been working on deepening the economic integration process among its 10 member countries. In 1992, it signed the Asean Free Trade Area (Afta), focusing on reduction of tariffs by implementing a Common Effective Preferential Tariff (CEPT) scheme. Since then, the Asean framework for economic integration has continued to develop, covering several layers of agreements and declarations, each building on mileage gained by earlier successes.
One such declaration was the Bali Concord II from 2003, when the leaders decided to establish an Asean Economic Community (AEC) by 2020. The AEC was envisioned to be a single market and production base with free flow of goods, services, investments, capital and skilled labour1.
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