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Editorial: Knowing Asean Monday, November 13, 2017 THE

31st Asean Summit and Related Summits sets off on November 13-15 in Metro Manila, as
the Philippines chairs the association this year. But what is Asean? For sure, many know it's
the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, but beyond that will be a vague recollection of
Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, and Thailand bonding together several decades ago. Let's
pick out some important snippets published by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) about
Asean so that we can appreciate more what is happening this week.
(https://www.adb.org/features/asean-12-things-know) "The Association of Southeast Asian
Nations was established in August 1967 with the signing of the ASEAN Declaration by
Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. The original agreement was
negotiated by foreign ministers in an isolated beach resort south of Bangkok using what
was later called "sports-shirt diplomacy." (Source: The History of Asean) Next to the
People's Republic of China and India, ASEAN has the world's third largest labor force and
with over 600 million people, its potential market is larger than the European Union or North
America. (Source: Asean Integration and the Private Sector) Asean established the Asean
Economic Community (AEC) in 2015 with the goal of allowing the free flow of goods,
services, investments, and skilled labor, and the more free movement of capital across the
region. (Source: 24th Asean Summit. Nay Pyi Taw Declaration) The Asean Infrastructure
Fund, established in 2011, is helping member states finance their vast infrastructure needs
estimated at over $1 trillion from 2010 to 2020. That includes investments to build and
strengthen cross-border transport and power grid links, crucial for the goal of achieving a
single Asean market and production base. (Source: Asean Infrastructure Fund Brochure) By
opening sectors to competition and breaking down trade barriers, the new economic
community potentially could lift ASEAN's economic output by 7 percent by 2025 and
generate around 14 million new jobs. (Source: ASEAN Community 2015: Managing
Integration for Better Jobs and Shared Prosperity) The Asean Economic Community
Blueprint 2025 succeeds the initial AEC agreement, with a 10-year plan for implementation
and further reforms. It aims to address difficult areas such as non-tariff barriers and trade in
services. (Source: Will 2025 be the final deadline for the AEC?) Asean's key challenge is to
translate the aspirations it has laid out in its 10-year blueprint into real reforms on the
ground, and to ensure member states comply with their commitments. (Source: Will 2025
be the final deadline for the AEC?) Yes, it's not a perfect image, there are challenges as
there will always be challenges. But Asean remains to be an economic force to contend with
if all members bond together and aspire toward one vision of prosperity for all. But of
course, that's wishful thinking.

Read more: http://www.sunstar.com.ph/davao/opinion/2017/11/13/editorial-knowing-asean-

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