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What is ASEAN?

 

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations[5] (ASEAN play /ˈɑːsi.ɑːn/AH-see-ahn,[6] rarely /ˈɑːzi.ɑːn/AH-zee-ahn)[7][8] is a geo-political and economic organization 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, Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. Its aims include accelerating economic growth, social progress, cultural development 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 2010, its combined nominal GDP had grown to US$1.8 trillion.[11] If ASEAN were a single entity, it would rank as the ninth largest economy in the world, behind the United States, China, Japan, Germany, France, Brazil, the United Kingdom, and Italy.

 

History

ASEAN was preceded by an organisation called the Association of Southeast Asia, commonly called ASA, an alliance consisting of the Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand that was formed in 1961. The bloc itself, however, was established 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; not to mention Indonesia’s ambition to become a regional hegemon through regional cooperation and the hope on the part of Malaysia and Singapore to constrain Indonesia and bring it into a more cooperative framework.

Papua New Guinea was accorded Observer status in 1976 and Special Observer status in 1981.[13] Papua New Guinea is a Melanesian state. ASEAN embarked on a program 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. The bloc grew when Brunei Darussalam became the sixth member on 8 January 1984, barely a week after gaining independence on 1 January.[14]

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[74]

  • 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.[74]

Trade in Services

An ASEAN Framework Agreement on Trade in Services was adopted at the ASEAN Summit in Bangkok in December 1995.[75] 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.[76]

Single Aviation Market

The ASEAN Single Aviation Market (SAM), proposed by the ASEAN Air Transport Working Group, supported by the ASEAN Senior Transport Officials Meeting, and endorsed by the ASEAN Transport Ministers, will introduce an open-sky arrangement to the region by 2015.[77] The ASEAN SAM will be expected to fully liberalise air travel between its member states, allowing ASEAN 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.[77][78] Beginning 1 December 2008, restrictions on the third and fourth freedoms of the air between capital cities of member states for air passengers services will be removed,[79] while from 1 January 2009, there will be full liberalisation of air freight services in the region, while[77][78] By 1 January 2011, there will be liberalisation of fifth freedom traffic rights between all capital cities.[80]

Free Trade Agreements With Other Countries

ASEAN has concluded free trade agreements with China (expecting bilateral trade of $500 billion by 2015),[44] Korea, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and most recently India.[81] 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.[82] Republic of China (Taiwan) has also expressed interest in an agreement with ASEAN but needs to overcome diplomatic objections from China.[83]

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.

The ASEAN six majors are (GDP nominal 2010 based on IMF data. The figures in parentheses are GDP PPP.)

  •  Indonesia: 906.75 billions (1,333 billions)
  •  Thailand: 318.91 billions (589 billions)
  •  Malaysia: 237.96 billions (416 billions)
  •  Singapore: 222.70 billions (293 billions)
  •  Philippines: 199.59 billions (369 billions)
  •  Vietnam: 103.57 billions (277 billions)

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.[84] A key component has also newly been added, with the establishment of a surveillance unit.[85]

The ASEAN+3 Macroeconomic and Research Office (AMRO) will start its operation in Singapore in May 2011.[86] It will perform 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.[87]

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.[88] On May 3, 2012 ASEAN+3 finance ministers agreed to double emergency reserve fund to $240 billion.[89]

Foreign Direct Investment

In 2009, realized Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) was $37.9 billion and increase by two-fold in 2010 to $75.8 billion. 22 percent of FDI came form the European Union, followed by ASEAN countries themselves by 16 percent and then followed by Japan and US. European Union and US has debt problems, while Japan should make tsunami recovery. China who helped Asia lead the global post-2008 recovery still grapples with 3-years high inflation. So, in the longterm all of the problems will give negative impact to ASEAN indirectly. There are possibility to push some programs of ASEAN Economic Community before 2015.[90]

Intra-ASEAN travel

with free visa among ASEAN countries, a huge intra-ASEAN travel occurred and on the right track to establish an ASEAN Community in the years to come. In 2010, 47 percent or 34 million from 73 million tourists were intra-ASEAN travel.[91]

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.[92]

Official song

Education and Human Development

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.[99] Currently AUN comprises 26 Participating Universities.[100]
  • 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.

Scholarship

The ASEAN Scholarship is a scholarship program 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.[101]

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

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[102] in December 2006 in the 9th FESPIC Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The Games re-emerges as the 2010 Asian Para Games in Guangzhou, China. The 2010 Asian Para Games will debut 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.[103]

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.[104]