At this weekend’s summit in Kuala Lumpur, the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations formally declared the establishment of the ASEAN Community. Meg Teckman reports.
A new economic community for over 600 million people signed into being on Sunday (November 22). The Association of Southeast Asian Nations officially declared the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community at the group's annual summit in Kuala Lumpur. The bloc will allow for freer trade, business, and development between the 10 member nations. Malaysian prime minister, Najib Razak welcomed the agreement: (SOUNDBITE) (English) MALAYSIAN PRIME MINISTER, NAJIB RAZAK, SAYING: "We now have to ensure that we create a truly single market and production base with freer movements of goods and services with common standards, far greater connectivity, and removal of the barriers that make our borders a hindrance to growth and investment." The community, or AEC, will also allow for better transportation and communication infrastructure, and the ability for many skilled workers to work in any member country. The AEC will bind together a region which has combined economic output of about 2.6 trillion dollars, making the bloc the world's seventh largest economy. But even bigger potential is ahead as the region thrives and becomes more globally competitive. The bloc could become the world's fourth largest economy as early as 2030, behind only the EU, the U.S. and China. The community has been 12 years in the making and is set to be fully functional on December 31st. ENDS