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Association of Southeast Asian Nations

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Overview

Association of Southeast Asian Nations
Flag Emblem
Motto: 
"One Vision, One Identity, One Community"[1]
Anthem: The ASEAN Way
Headquarters Indonesia Jakarta, Indonesiaa
Working language
Membership
Leaders
 -  Secretary General Vietnam Lê Lương Minh[2]
 -  Summit Presidency  Burma (Myanmar)[3]
Establishment
 -  Bangkok Declaration 8 August 1967 
 -  Charter 16 December 2008 
Area
 -  Total 4,479,210.5 km2
2,778,124.7 sq mi
Population
 -  2011 estimate 602,658,000
 -  Density 135/km2
216/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2011 estimate
 -  Total US$ 3.574 trillion[4]
 -  Per capita US$ 5,930
GDP (nominal) 2013 estimate
 -  Total US$ 2.403 trillion
 -  Per capita US$ 3,909
HDI (2013) Increase 0.669b
medium
Currency
Time zone ASEAN (UTC+9 to +6:30)
Calling code
Internet TLD
Website
a. Address: Jalan Sisingamangaraja No.70A, South Jakarta.
b. Calculated using UNDP data from member states.


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

ASEAN covers a land area of 4.46 million km², which is 3% of the total land area of Earth, and has a population of approximately 600 million people, which is 8.8% of the world's population. The sea area of ASEAN is about three times larger than its land counterpart. In 2012, its combined nominal GDP had grown to more than US$2.3 trillion.[11] If ASEAN were a single entity, it would rank as the sixth largest economy in the world, behind the US, China, Japan, India and Germany.

Contents

History

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 was existing before by an organisation called the Association of Southeast Asia (ASA), a group consisting of the Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand that was formed in 1961. The bloc itself, however, was inaugurated on 8 August 1967, when foreign ministers of five countries – Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand – met at the Thai Department of Foreign Affairs building in Bangkok and signed the ASEAN Declaration, more commonly known as the Bangkok Declaration. The five foreign ministers – Adam Malik of Indonesia, Narciso Ramos of the Philippines, Abdul Razak of Malaysia, S. Rajaratnam of Singapore, and Thanat Khoman of Thailand – are considered the organisation's Founding Fathers.[12]

The motivations for the birth of ASEAN were so that its members’ governing elite could concentrate on nation building, the common fear of communism, reduced faith in or mistrust of external powers in the 1960s, and a desire for economic development.

The block grew when Brunei Darussalam became the sixth member on 8 January 1984, barely a week after gaining independence on 1 January.[13]

Continued expansion

On 28 July 1995, Vietnam became the seventh member.[14] Laos and Myanmar (Burma) joined two years later on 23 July 1997.[15] Cambodia was to have joined together with Laos and Burma, but was deferred due to the country's internal political struggle. The country later joined on 30 April 1999, following the stabilisation of its government.[15][16]

During the 1990s, the bloc experienced an increase in both membership and drive for further integration. In 1990, Malaysia proposed the creation of an East Asia Economic Caucus[17] comprising the then 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 the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and in the Asian region as a whole.[18][19] This proposal failed, however, because of heavy opposition from the United States and Japan.[18][20] Despite this failure, 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 signed as a schedule for phasing 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. After the East Asian Financial Crisis of 1997, a revival of the Malaysian proposal was established in Chiang Mai, known as the Chiang Mai Initiative, which calls for better integration between the economies of ASEAN as well as the ASEAN Plus Three countries (China, Japan, and South Korea).[21]

Aside from improving each member state's economies, 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 have ratified it. It became fully effective on 21 June 2001, after the Philippines ratified it, effectively banning all nuclear weapons in the region.[22]

East Timor and Papua New Guinea

East Timor submitted a letter of application to be the eleventh member of ASEAN at the summit in Jakarta in March 2011. Indonesia has shown a warm welcome to East Timor.[23][24][25]

Papua New Guinea was accorded Observer status in 1976 and Special Observer status in 1981.[26] Papua New Guinea is a Melanesian state. ASEAN embarked on a programme of economic cooperation following the Bali Summit of 1976. This floundered in the mid-1980s and was only revived around 1991 due to a Thai proposal for a regional free trade area.

Environment

Satellite image of the 2006 haze over Borneo - Association of Southeast Asian Nations
Satellite image of the 2006 haze over Borneo

At the turn of the 21st century, issues shifted to include a regional approach to the environment. 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.[27] 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,[28] the ASEAN Wildlife Enforcement Network in 2005,[29] 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.[30]

ASEAN Plus Three

Leaders of each country felt the need to further integrate the region. Beginning in 1997, the bloc began creating organisations within its framework 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, which now includes these 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.[31] As a response, the organisation awarded the status of "dialogue partner" to the United Nations.[32]

Free Trade

2007 was the fortieth anniversary of ASEAN's beginning, and 30 years of diplomatic relations with the US.[33] 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.[34][35] In November 2007 the ASEAN members signed the ASEAN Charter, a constitution governing relations among the 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 in Cebu 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 is in favour of energy security by finding energy alternatives to conventional fuels.[citation needed]

On 27 February 2009 a Free Trade Agreement with the ASEAN regional block of 10 countries and Australia and its close partner New Zealand was signed, it is believed that this FTA would boost combine GDP across the 12 countries by more than US$48 billion over the period 2000–2020.[36][37] ASEAN members together with the group’s six major trading partners – Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea – have began the first round of negotiations on 26–28 February 2013 in Bali, Indonesia, on establishment of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.[38]

The ASEAN way

ASEAN members' flags in Jakarta - Association of Southeast Asian Nations
ASEAN members' flags in Jakarta

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:[39]

  • 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 cooperation

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 cooperation.[40] 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.

Critical reception

Royal Thai Embassy in Helsinki flying its own national flag as well as Asean flag - Association of Southeast Asian Nations
Royal Thai Embassy in Helsinki flying its own national flag as well as Asean flag

The ASEAN way can be seen as divergent from the contextual contemporary political reality at the formative stages of the association. A critical distinction is made by Amitav Acharya, that the ‘ASEAN Way’ indicates “a process of ‘regional interactions and cooperation based on discreteness, informality, consensus building and non-confrontational bargaining styles’ that contrasts with ‘the adversarial posturing, majority vote and other legalistic decision-making procedures in Western multilateral organisations’".[41]

However, critics argue[who?] that the ASEAN Way serves as the major stumbling-block to it becoming a true diplomacy mechanism. Due to the consensus-based approach every member has a veto, so contentious issues must remain unresolved until agreements can be reached. Moreover, it is claimed that member nations are directly and indirectly advocating that ASEAN be more flexible and allow discourse on internal affairs of member countries.

Additionally, the preference for informal discussions to adversarial negotiations limits the leverage of diplomatic solutions[which?] within ASEAN.

Michael Yahuda,[42] explains, in his book International Politics of the Asia Pacific (2003) second and revised edition, the limitations of the ASEAN way. In summary of his argument, unlike the European Union, ‘the ASEAN Way’ has made ASEAN members never aspired to an economic and political union. It was designed to sustain the independence and sovereignty of member states and to encourage regional and national stability. ASEAN differed in assessment of external threat and they operated within conditions in which legality and the rule of law were not generally consolidated within member states. ASEAN wasn’t a rule making body subjecting its members to the discipline of adhering its laws and regulations. It was operated through consensus and informality. Also, the member states avoided to confront certain issues if they were to result in conflicts.[43]

Meetings

ASEAN Summits

A billboard in Jakarta welcoming ASEAN Summit 2011 delegates - Association of Southeast Asian Nations
A billboard in Jakarta welcoming ASEAN Summit 2011 delegates

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.[44] 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.[44] 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.[45]

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
Pattaya
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
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:[44]

ASEAN Informal Summits
No Date Country Host Host leader
1st 30 November 1996  Indonesia Jakarta Soeharto
2nd 14‒16 December 1997  Malaysia Kuala Lumpur Mahathir Mohamad
3rd 27‒28 November 1999  Philippines Manila Joseph Estrada
4th 22‒25 November 2000  Singapore Singapore Goh Chok Tong

East Asia Summit

Main article: East Asia Summit
Participants of the East Asia Summit
  ASEAN
  ASEAN Plus Three
  ASEAN Plus Six
  Observer - Association of Southeast Asian Nations
Participants of the East Asia Summit
  ASEAN
  ASEAN Plus Three
  ASEAN Plus Six
  Observer

The East Asia Summit (EAS) is a pan-Asian forum held annually by the leaders of 16 countries in East Asia and the region, with ASEAN in a leadership position. The summit has discussed issues including trade, energy and security and the summit has a role in regional community building.

The members of the summit are all 10 members of ASEAN plus China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand. These nations represent nearly half of the world's population. In October 2010, Russia and the United States were formally invited to participate as full members, with presidents of both countries to attend the 2011 summit.[46]

The first summit was held in Kuala Lumpur on 14 December 2005 and subsequent meetings have been held after the annual ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting.

Meeting Country Location Date Note
First EAS  Malaysia Kuala Lumpur 14 December 2005 Russia attended as a guest.
Second EAS  Philippines Cebu City 15 January 2007 Rescheduled from 13 December 2006.

Cebu Declaration on East Asian Energy Security

Third EAS  Singapore Singapore 21 November 2007 Singapore Declaration on Climate Change, Energy and the Environment[47]

Agreed to establish Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia

Fourth EAS  Thailand Cha-am and Hua Hin 25 October 2009 The date and location of the venue was rescheduled several times, and then a Summit scheduled for 12 April 2009 at Pattaya, Thailand was cancelled when protesters stormed the venue. The Summit has been rescheduled for October 2009 and transferred again from Phuket[48] to Cha-am and Hua Hin.[49]
Fifth EAS  Vietnam Hanoi 30 October 2010[50] Officially invited the US and Russia to participate in future EAS as full-fledged members[46]
Sixth EAS  Indonesia Bali 19 November 2011 The United States and Russia to join the Summit.
Seventh EAS  Cambodia Phnom Penh 20 November 2012
Eighth EAS  Brunei Bandar Seri Begawan 10 October 2013
Ninth EAS  Burma (Myanmar) Naypyidaw TBA

Commemorative summit

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 cooperation and partnership.

Meeting Host Location Date Note
ASEAN–Japan Commemorative Summit  Japan Tokyo 11, 12 December 2003 To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the establishment of relations between ASEAN and Japan. The summit was also notable as the first ASEAN summit held between ASEAN and a non-ASEAN country outside the region.
ASEAN–China Commemorative Summit  China Nanning 30, 31 October 2006 To celebrate the 15th anniversary of the establishment of relations between ASEAN and China
ASEAN–Republic of Korea Commemorative Summit  Republic of Korea Jeju-do 1, 2 June 2009 To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the establishment of relations between ASEAN and Republic of Korea
ASEAN–India Commemorative Summit  India New Delhi 20, 21 December 2012 To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the establishment of relations between ASEAN and India.

Regional Forum

█ ASEAN full members
█ ASEAN observers
█ ASEAN candidate members
██ ASEAN Plus Three
███ East Asia Summit
██████ ASEAN Regional Forum - Association of Southeast Asian Nations
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.[51] 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.[52] 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

Aside from the ones above, other regular[53] meetings are also held.[54] These include the annual ASEAN Ministerial Meeting[55] as well as other smaller committees.[56] Meetings mostly focus on specific topics, such as defence[53] or the environment,[53][57] and are attended by Ministers, instead of heads of government.

Another Three

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.[58]

Asia–Europe Meeting

The Asia–Europe Meeting (ASEM) is an informal dialogue process initiated in 1996 with the intention of strengthening cooperation between the countries of Europe and Asia, especially members of the European Union and ASEAN in particular.[59] 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.

ASEAN–Russia Summit

The ASEAN–Russia Summit is an annual meeting between leaders of member states and the President of Russia.

ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting

The 44th annual meeting was held in Bali on 16 to 23 July 2011. Indonesia proposed a unified ASEAN travel visa to ease travel within the region for citizens of ASEAN member states.[60] The 45th annual meeting was held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. For the first time in the history of ASEAN there was no diplomatic statement issued by the bloc at the end of the meeting. This was due to tensions over China's claim of ownership over near the entirety of the South China Sea and the counterclaim to such ownership by neighbouring states.

Economic community

ASEAN has emphasised regional cooperation in the “three pillars”, which are security, sociocultural integration, and economic integration.[61] The regional grouping has made the most progress in economic integration by creating an ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) by 2015.[62] The average economic growths of ASEAN's member nations during 1989–2009 was Singapore with 6.73 percent, Malaysia with 6.15 percent, Indonesia with 5.16 percent, Thailand with 5.02 percent, and the Philippines with 3.79 percent. This economic growth was greater than the average Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) economic growth, which was 2.83 percent.[63]

From CEPT to AEC

A Common Effective Preferential Tariff (CEPT) scheme to promote the free flow of goods within ASEAN lead to the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA).[62] The AFTA is an agreement by the member nations of ASEAN concerning local manufacturing in all ASEAN countries. The AFTA agreement was signed on 28 January 1992 in Singapore.[64] When the AFTA agreement was originally signed, ASEAN had six members, namely, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. Vietnam joined in 1995, Laos and Burma in 1997, and Cambodia in 1999. The latecomers have not fully met the 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.[65]

The next step is ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) with main objectives are to create a:

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

Since 2007, the ASEAN countries gradually lower their import duties among them and targeted will be zero for most of the import duties at 2015.[66]

Since 2011, AEC has agreed to strengthen the position and increase the competitive edges of small and medium enterprises (SME) in the ASEAN region.[67]

Comprehensive Investment Area

The ASEAN Comprehensive Investment Area (ACIA) will encourage the free flow of investment within ASEAN. The main principles of the ACIA are as follows[68]

  • All industries are to be opened up for investment, with exclusions to be phased out according to schedules
  • National treatment is granted immediately to ASEAN investors with few exclusions
  • Elimination of investment impediments
  • Streamlining of investment process and procedures
  • Enhancing transparency
  • Undertaking investment facilitation measures

Full realisation of the ACIA with the removal of temporary exclusion lists in manufacturing agriculture, fisheries, forestry and mining is scheduled by 2010 for most ASEAN members and by 2015 for the CLMV (Cambodia, Lao PDR, Burma, and Vietnam) countries.[68]

Trade in Services

An ASEAN Framework Agreement on Trade in Services was adopted at the ASEAN Summit in Bangkok in December 1995.[69] 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. The negotiations result in commitments that are set forth in schedules of specific commitments annexed to the Framework Agreement. These schedules are often referred to as packages of services commitments. At present, ASEAN has concluded seven packages of commitments under AFAS.[70]

Single Aviation Market

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.[71] 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.[71][72] 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,[73] while from 1 January 2009, full liberalisation of air freight services in the region took effect.[71][72] On 1 January 2011, full liberalisation on fifth freedom traffic rights between all capital cities took effect.[74]

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.

Free-trade agreements with other countries

ASEAN has concluded free trade agreements with China (expecting bilateral trade of $500 billion by 2015),[75] Korea, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and India.[76] 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.[77] Republic of China (Taiwan) has also expressed interest in an agreement with ASEAN but needs to overcome diplomatic objections from China.[78]

ASEAN six majors

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 867,468,000,000 1,284,789,000,000 5,214
 Thailand 400,916,000,000 674,344,000,000 9,875
 Malaysia 312,413,000,000 525,039,000,000 17,748
 Singapore 297,941,000,000 348,700,000,000 64,584
 Philippines 278,260,000,000 471,254,000,000 4,682
 Vietnam 170,020,000,000 358,889,000,000 4,012

Development gap

ASEAN members by
Human Development Index
[79]
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.[80]

From CMI to AMRO

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.[81] A key component has also newly been added, with the establishment of a surveillance unit.[82]

The ASEAN+3 Macroeconomic and Research Office (AMRO) started its operation in Singapore in May 2011.[83] 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.[84]

According to some analysts, the amount of $120 billion is relatively small (cover only about 20 percent of needs), so coordination or help from International Monetary Fund is still needed.[85] On 3 May 2012 ASEAN+3 finance ministers agreed to double emergency reserve fund to $240 billion.[86]

Foreign Direct Investment

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.

Intra-ASEAN travel

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 shall bear fruit in years to come. In 2010, 47 percent or 34 million out of 73 million tourists in ASEAN member-states were from other ASEAN countries.[87]

Intra-ASEAN trade

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.[88]

ASEAN Capital Market Forum

ASEAN Capital Market Forum (ACMF) consist of:

  • ASEAN Linkage, until end of 2013 only has 3 stock exchange members: Bursa Malaysia, Singapore Exchange and Stock Exchange of Thailand, but cover 70 percent of transaction values of 7 ASEAN Stock Exchanges,[89] with objective to integrate ASEAN Stock Exchanges to compete with International Stock Exchanges
  • Mutual Recognigtion of Disclosure Standards, with objective to harmonise and equal of ASEAN Standards
  • Mutual Recognition of Collective of Investment Scheme (CIS), with objective to harmonise all regulations in ASEAN which related with CIS, some countries are still categorised as Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Non-Cooperative Country which are not maximum to do with money laundering and terrorism

Charter

Main article: ASEAN Charter
The Secretariat of ASEAN at Jalan Sisingamangaraja No.70A, South Jakarta, Indonesia - Association of Southeast Asian Nations
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".[90] 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 fundamental principles include:

a) respect for the independence, sovereignty, equality, territorial integrity and national identity of all ASEAN Member States;

b) shared commitment and collective responsibility in enhancing regional peace, security and prosperity;

c) renunciation of aggression and of the threat or use of force or other actions in any manner inconsistent with international law;

d) reliance on peaceful settlement of disputes;

e) non-interference in the internal affairs of ASEAN Member States;

f) respect for the right of every Member State to lead its national existence free from external interference, subversion and coercion;

g) enhanced consultations on matters seriously affecting the common interest of ASEAN;

h) adherence to the rule of law, good governance, the principles of democracy and constitutional government;

i) respect for fundamental freedoms, the promotion and protection of human rights, and the promotion of social justice;

j) upholding the United Nations Charter and international law, including international humanitarian law, subscribed to by ASEAN Member States;

k) abstention from participation in any policy or activity, including the use of its territory, pursued by an ASEAN Member State or non-ASEAN State or any non-State actor, which threatens the sovereignty, territorial integrity or political and economic stability of ASEAN Member States;

l) respect for the different cultures, languages and religions of the peoples of ASEAN, while emphasising their common values in the spirit of unity in diversity;

m) the centrality of ASEAN in external political, economic, social and cultural relations while remaining actively engaged, outward-looking, inclusive and non-discriminatory; and

n) adherence to multilateral trade rules and ASEAN's rules-based regimes for effective implementation of economic commitments and progressive reduction towards elimination of all barriers to regional economic integration, in a market-driven economy.[91]

However, the ongoing global financial crisis was stated as being a threat to the goals envisioned by the charter,[92] 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 violate citizens' rights and would therefore be limited in effectiveness.[93] 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.

Cultural activities

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.

ASEAN Media Cooperation

The ASEAN Media Cooperation (AMC) set digital television standards, policies and create in preparation for broadcasters to transition from analogue to digital broadcasting, better promote media collaboration and information exchange to enhance voice, understanding, and perspective between ASEAN people on the international stage.

The ASEAN member countries aim media sector towards digitalisation and further regional media coaction. AMC establishes partnerships between ASEAN news media, and cooperate on information sharing, photo swapping, technical cooperation, exchange programmes, and facilitating joint news coverage and exchange of news footage.

The concept was stressed during the 11th AMRI Conference[94] adopting the theme: ”Media Connecting Peoples and Bridging Cultures Towards One ASEAN Nation”. ASEAN Ministers believed that the new and traditional media are important mediums to connect ASEAN people and bridging the cultural gap.

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[95] 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”.

Several key initiatives that were initiated under the AMC:[96]

  • ASEAN Media Portal, The new ASEAN Media Portal[97] was launched 16 November 2007 by the ASEAN Secretary-General, Mr Ong Keng Yong, and witnessed by Singapore’s Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts, Dr Lee Boon Yang. The said 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.
  • ASEAN NewsMaker Project, an initiative launched in 2009 that trains students and teachers to produce informational video clips about the lifestyle in their country. The project was initiated by Singapore to work closely with 500 primary and secondary students, aging 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 training for the NewsMaker software use, video production and responsible internet use and hope to develop the language skills and story narration among the said students. Engaging the youth using new media is an approach to create a 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.”[98]
  • 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 to switchover from analogue to digital TV broadcasting by 2020. During the 11th ASEAN Digital Broadcasting Meeting,[99] members updated the status on DTV implementation and agreed to inform ASEAN members on the Guidelines for ASEAN Digital Switchover.[100] 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’s Next Top Chef and The Legend of the Golden Talisman, two interactive games developed to raise awareness about ASEAN, and its people, places and cultures

New media and social media

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.

SEA Write Award

Logo of the SEA Write Award - Association of Southeast Asian Nations
Logo of the SEA Write Award

The S.E.A. Write Award is a literary award given to Southeast Asian poets and writers annually since 1979. The award is either given for a specific work or as a recognition of an author's lifetime achievement. Works that are honoured vary and have included poetry, short stories, novels, plays, folklore as well as scholarly and religious works. Ceremonies are held in Bangkok and are presided by a member of the Thai royal family.

ASAIHL

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

ASEAN Heritage Parks[101] 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.[102]

ASEAN Heritage Sites

Site Country Site Country
Alaungdaw Kathapa National Park  Burma Ao Phang-nga Marine National Park  Thailand
Apo Natural Park  Philippines Imperial City, Huế  Vietnam
Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park  Indonesia Gunung Leuser National Park  Indonesia
Gunung Mulu National Park  Malaysia Ha Long Bay  Vietnam
Hoi An Ancient Town  Vietnam Mounts Iglit-Baco National Park  Philippines
Indawgyi Lake Wildlife Sanctuary  Burma Inlé Lake Wildlife Sanctuary  Burma
Kaeng Krachan National Park  Thailand Kerinci Seblat National Park  Indonesia
Khakaborazi National Park  Burma Khao Yai National Park  Thailand
Kinabalu National Park  Malaysia Komodo National Park  Indonesia
Imperial Citadel of Thang Long  Vietnam Lampi Kyun Wildlife Reserve  Burma
Lorentz National Park  Indonesia Meinmhala Kyun Wildlife Sanctuary  Burma
Mu Ko Surin-Mu Ko Similan Marine National Park  Thailand Nam Ha Protected Area  Laos
Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park  Vietnam Preah Monivong (Bokor) National Park  Cambodia
Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park  Philippines Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve  Singapore
Taman Negara National Park  Malaysia Tarutao Marine National Park  Thailand
Tasek Merimbun Wildlife Sanctuary  Brunei Thung Yai-Huay Kha Khaeng National Park  Thailand
Ujung Kulon National Park  Indonesia
Virachey National Park  Cambodia Keraton Yogyakarta  Indonesia
Mỹ Sơn  Vietnam Citadel of Ho Dynasty  Vietnam
Mount Malindang  Philippines Vigan City  Philippines
Taal Volcano  Philippines Mayon Volcano  Philippines

Songs and music

Education and human development

As the "collective entity to enhance regional cooperation in education", the ASEAN Education Ministers have determined four priorities that ASEAN efforts toward improved education would address: (1) Promoting ASEAN awareness among ASEAN citizens, particularly youth; (2) Strengthening ASEAN identity through education; (3) Building ASEAN human resources in the field of education; and (4) Strengthening ASEAN university networking.[103] Nations such as Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines have experienced rapid development over the past 20 years, and this has been visibly evident in their educational systems. Each country has developed unique - yet interconnected through ASEAN initiatives - human and physical infrastructure to provide youth education, a primary determinant in future capabilities and sustained economic growth for the entire region.[104] 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.[103]

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 the ASEAN Education Ministers’ Meetings (ASED) on a regular basis. The Leaders also called for ASEAN Education Ministers to focus on enhancing regional cooperation in education.[105] The ASEAN Education Ministers Meeting, which meets annually, oversees ASEAN cooperation efforts on education at the ministerial level. With regard to implementation, such programmes and activities resulting from such efforts are for the most part carried out by the ASEAN Senior Officials on Education (SOM-ED), which reports to the ASEAN Education Ministers Meeting. SOM-ED also manages cooperation on higher education through the ASEAN University Network (AUN). The AUN was established to assist ASEAN in (1) promoting cooperation among ASEAN scholars, academics, and scientists in the region; (2) developing academic and professional human resources in the region; (3) promoting information dissemination among the ASEAN academic community; and (4) enhancing the awareness of regional identity and the sense of "ASEAN-ness" among members.[103]

Education indicators outlined hereafter belong to primary, secondary, and tertiary levels. 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 minimally the successful completion of secondary education for admission and entails the level of education within some college or university.[106]

School enrollment and participation

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 enrollment 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.[107]

Primary education

We can make a few observations based on reported data on primary education enrollment. Brunei Darussalam had almost reached 100% net enrollment 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 enrollment 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 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.[108]

It is also useful to look at retainment 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.[109]

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.[110]

Secondary education

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. - Association of Southeast Asian Nations
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 Darussalam, 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."[111]

Tertiary education

While the HPAEs (High Performing Asian Economies) and ASEAN-6 (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.[112] 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 'home' informed audiences and respond less to international standards which makes universal or regional benchmarking difficult.[113]

University Network

  • 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.[114] Currently AUN comprises 26 Participating Universities.[115]
  • 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 19 leading Member Institutions (selected by the Ministries in charge of higher education of respective countries) from 10 ASEAN countries with the support of 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

Financial resources

Governments have a vested interest in investing in education and other aspects of human capital infrastructure, especially those governments of 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, in productivity enhancements by businesses, and especially in the public provision of education and health services determine the potential for growth.[116]

To measure the investments in education by governments, we use the metrics of public current expenditure on primary education as a percent of GDP and expenditure per pupil as a percent of GDP. 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.[106]

Primary education expenditure in the reporting ASEAN countries is usually lower than 3% of GDP, with the exception of Indonesia, which reported 5%. Two countries that show noticeable rising trends are the Philippines and Lao PDR. 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 has maintained a stable 0.6% up until 2000 and increased slightly to 0.7% in 2001.[117]

While the public current expenditure on primary education as percentage of GDP can never be close to 100%, it is theoretically possible to have the public current expenditure per pupil as percentage of GDP per capita to reach or exceed 100%. Except for Singapore, this indicator fluctuates somewhat, but seems to have stabilised at around 10% for two reporting countries of ASEAN at the end of the 1990s decade. Since 1996, the indicator has steadily risen in the Philippines reaching almost 14% by 1998. Upward or downward trend for this indicator can have many causes which include sharp changes in enrolment rates of government expenditures on primary education.[117]

Scholarship

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 & accident insurance, school fees, and examination fees.[118] 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.[119] 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.[120]

Education as a determinant of human development

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.[121]

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."[117]

Literacy rates

Literacy indicators provide us with a measure of the number of literate persons within the population who are capable of using written words in daily and to continue to learn.[122] 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 retainment rates (through at least grade 5) of primary education, both of which contribute to the 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 comprable with member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), 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. The results of overall improvement in literacy rates, though, indicate positive effectiveness of the primary education systems of these countries throughout the 1990s.[123][124]

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 sex, 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.[125] Only in the Philippines is the literacy rate among women higher than among men.

ASEAN Integration 2015

Initially launched in the 4th ASEAN Summit held in Singapore in November 2000 as an "Initiative for ASEAN Integration" (IAI) by then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong which created a framework for human resource development programs and the integration of the new member States - Vietnam, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Cambodia.

The IAI has set-up four human resource development training centers in the new member States and by 2002 there were more than 10,000 participants in the program in various fields such as English Language, Information and Communication Technology, Trade and Tourism.

During the 12th ASEAN summit held in Cebu, Philippines in 12-15 January 2007, the member States signed the 5 agreements aimed in further strengthening the integration of ASEAN and further enhancing political, economic and social cooperation in the region.

Among those issues drafted in the agreement includes the "Cebu Declaration on the Acceleration of the Establishment of an ASEAN Community by 2015."

On the 13th ASEAN Summit in Singapore, from 18-22 November 2007 with the theme "One ASEAN at the Heart of Dynamic Asia" leaders of the member States endorsed the ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint on a plan to establish a single market and production base in the ASEAN region by 2015.

One Market Economy

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).

Sports

Southeast Asian Games

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

Logo of the ASEAN Para Games. - Association of Southeast Asian Nations
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,

FESPIC Games / Asian Para Games

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[126] 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

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".

ASEAN 2030 FIFA World Cup bid

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.[127]

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.[128]

ASEAN Defence Industry Collaboration

Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand have established defence industries. To cut cost and plan to be self-sufficient by 2030, Indonesia and Malaysia have agreed to promote the creation of the ASEAN Defence Industry Collaboration (ADIC).[129] The United States military reportedly has said that ADIC could have additional benefits beyond cost savings for ASEAN members, including facilitating a set of standards, similar to NATO, that will improve interoperability among ASEAN and U.S. militaries and increase the effectiveness of regional response to threats to Asia-Pacific peace and stability.[130]

Criticism

Non-ASEAN countries have criticised ASEAN for being too soft in its approach to promoting human rights and democracy in the junta-led Burma.[131] 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.[132] 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.[133] International observers view it as a "talk shop",[134] which implies that the organisation is "big on words but small on action".[135][136] However, leaders such as the Philippines' Foreign Affairs Secretary, Alberto Romulo, said it "is a workshop not a talk shop".[137] Others have also expressed similar sentiment.[138]

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 cooperation 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 Indonesia and Malaysia.[139]

During the 12th ASEAN Summit in Cebu, several activist groups staged anti-globalisation protests.[140] 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.[141]

ASEAN competitions

See also

Literature

  • ASEAN Community in Figures (ACIF) 2012, Jakarta: Association of Southeast Asian Nations, 2012, ISBN 978-602-7643-22-2 
  • Acharya, Amitav (2009), Constructing a Security Community in Southeast Asia: ASEAN and the problem of regional order (2nd ed.), Abingdon Oxon/New York: Routledge, ISBN 978-0-415-41428-9 
  • Collins, Allan (2013), Building a People-oriented Security Community the ASEAN Way, Abingdon Oxon/New York: Routledge, ISBN 978-0-415-46052-1 
  • Fry, Gerald W. (2008), The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, New York: Chelsea House, ISBN 978-0-7910-9609-3 
  • Lee, Yoong Yoong, ed. (2011), ASEAN Matters! Reflecting on the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Singapore: World Scientific Publishing, ISBN 978-981-4335-06-5 
  • Haacke, Jürgen; Morada, Noel M., eds. (2010), Cooperative Security in the Asia-Pacific: The ASEAN Regional Forum, Abingdon Oxon/New York: Routledge, ISBN 978-0-415-46052-1 
  • Severino, Rodolfo (2008), ASEAN, Singapore: ISEAS Publications, ISBN 978-981-230-750-7 

References

The Asia-Pacific Profile (Pacific Studies)
(1998)
The Asia-Pacific Profile offers students a unique combination of maps, diagrams, documents and statistical data covering every state around and within the Pacific.Key features include:* a broad definition of the 'Asia-Pacific' covering:North-East and South-East Asia, Australasia, North, Central and South America and the Pacific Island States* over 25 historical and contemporary maps featuring: flows of labour, trade, investment, tourists and telecommunications empires, wars, colonial struggles and environmental degradation* succinct yet comprehensive surveys of historical developments and contemporary political issues facing all countries bordering on the Pacific * over 600 diagrams depicting key demographic, economic and social changes since 1970 with appendices showing the actual data used and their sources* key documents that have shaped the Asia-Pacific including:founding charters of contemporary organizations, treaties, declarations and documents relating to social rights movements
ASEAN Enlargement: Impacts and Implications
Asia and Europe: The Development and Different Dimensions of ASEM (Routledge Advances in International Relations and Global Politics)
Lay Hwee Yeo (2003)
This book provides a systematic and thorough examination of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) process which brings together the fifteen EU member states, the European Commission and ten East and Southeast Asian countries. The author not only traces the actual development of the ASEM process, but also contextualises ASEM within three different international relations theoretical frameworks, as viewed by realists, social constructivists and institutionalists.
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