24 November 2015
The signing of the Kuala Lumpur Declaration on the Establishment of the ASEAN Community at the 27th ASEAN Summit formally paves the way for a more integrated Southeast Asia by the end of the year. But it also points to a larger story that is often less appreciated: the rise of Southeast Asia and the important roles played by ASEAN and China to facilitate this.
Southeast Asia is the seventh largest economy in the world. It has a combined GDP of more than US$ 2 trillion, which is projected to grow by more than 5 percent per annum over the next few years. Intra-ASEAN trade is now more than US$ 600 billion. Conditions for further growth are also favorable: overall peace and stability; resource-rich; a growing middle class and a generally young and vibrant population of more than 600 million.
With the creation of the ASEAN Community, which envisions the region as a single market and production base with freer movement of goods, services, labour and capital, Southeast Asia is set to become even more connected, dynamic and prosperous.
These achievements are not just the product of Southeast Asian efforts. It has come with the help of ASEAN’s external partners — in particular, China which has played a major role in the rise of Southeast Asia. As ASEAN’s largest trading partner since 2009, China is a key driver of growth, with bilateral trade reaching around US$ 480 billion last year. At the same time, ASEAN has become China’s third largest trading partner.
… Hoo Tiang Boon, a coordinator, MSc (Asian Studies) programme and Assistant Professor with S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies of Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.
GPO / IDSS / Online
Last updated on 24/11/2015