On 31 December 2015, a new economic community will be born. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will officially found the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), with the 10 member states (comprised of more than 600 million people) working towards the common goal of economic integration, a single market, and the free flow of services, investment, labour, and capital. Sound familiar?
It’s a grand plan on paper, but the reality is that progress has been slow. In 2010, intra-regional trade accounted for just 25% of ASEAN’s total trade, compared to nearly 70% for the EU. Unlike the EU, ASEAN advocates a consensus-based approach and stresses non-interference in the internal affairs of fellow member states. This is the “ASEAN way”, but it is also likely to cause serious implementation issues for the nascent economic community.
Are there lessons that ASEAN can draw from Europe’s experience with building a single market? To get a response, we spoke to Anita Prakash, Director General of Policy Relations at the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA). What would she say?
Are there lessons Asia can learn from the European Union? Will the “ASEAN way” of consensus-based decision-making and non-interference be enough to establish a single market in Southeast Asia? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!