World Economy

Expectations High Ahead of ASEAN Summit

Expectations High Ahead of ASEAN SummitExpectations High Ahead of ASEAN Summit

Malaysia will host the 26th ASEAN Summit beginning this weekend till Monday, April 27. It is the fourth time that Malaysia is chairing the 10-country-Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), since the grouping was founded in 1967.

Expectations are high, with all eyes focused on Malaysia, to ensure the setting up of the ASEAN Community by year-end.

While Jakarta is basking in the limelight after hosting the Asia-Africa Conference, Kuala Lumpur and Langkawi are going through the final touches for their big day. Malaysia is all set to roll out the red carpet to welcome fellow Southeast Asian leaders to the 26th ASEAN Summit.

At the top of the agenda is the progress report on the much anticipated ASEAN Community, which is set to kick off by the Dec 31 deadline.

The ASEAN Community consists of three pillars, namely, the ASEAN Political and Security Community, the ASEAN Economic Community, and the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community. Central to this integration is the establishment of a single market and integrated production base within ASEAN.

Touted as the region’s flagship cooperation project, the ASEAN Community will eventually see zero tariff and free movement of goods, services and investments within the group. However, industry experts say that target may be delayed, as the single ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) is still a work in progress. Nazir Razak, chairman of CIMB Group, said: “I always think it’s helpful to call a spade a spade in this case. We should not leave anyone with expectation that AEC will be a single production base, with free movement of goods and services, investment and skilled labor, and free movement of capital as described in the ASEAN Charter. People and businesses will be disappointed and angry if they are all dressed up for the wrong party.”

Even then, it is undeniable that ASEAN is an exciting, diverse, and vibrant region boasting a combined population of more than 600 million people. On top of that, 60 percent of the people are below the age of 30. The group is also on track to become the world’s fifth largest economy, with the world’s third largest market.

Towards this end, Malaysia is pushing to raise awareness of the single ASEAN Community as it drafts the post-2015 Vision that will guide ASEAN for the next 10 years.