The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or Asean, was established on 8 August 1967 in Bangkok, Thailand, with the signing of the Asean Declaration by Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. Since then, membership has expanded to include Brunei, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. Its aims include accelerating economic growth, social progress and cultural development of its member states and the protection of regional peace and stability.
Asean economies set to double GDP by 2020 says IHS
Emerging markets in Asia to be fastest growing in world as free trade boosts GDP to US$4.7tr
The Asean economy will double by 2020, with the nominal gross domestic product of the regional bloc increasing from US$2 trillion in 2012 to US$4.7 trillion, the global information company IHS says.
Rajiv Biswas, Asia-Pacific chief economist at IHS, speaking at a Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce conference on the outlook for emerging markets in Asia, said: "Asean is experiencing strong growth across the board.
"Frontier markets such as Vietnam and Myanmar are opening up, while Indonesia is expected to continue to grow."
IHS says in its global insight report that Vietnam and Myanmar are expected to reach a nominal GDP of US$290 billion and US$103 billion respectively by 2020 while Indonesia is expected to reach a projected nominal GDP of about US$1.9 trillion.
The IHS report says that overall, emerging markets in Asia are expected to be the fastest growing in the world and would continue to expand. It estimated that the GDP growth of emerging markets would exceed that of developed countries in 2020, continuing to expand thereafter.
Biswas said Asean was reaping the benefits of the free trade agreement signed with China in 2010 which formed the largest free trade area in terms of population and the third largest in terms of trade volume after the euro zone and the North American Free Trade Area.
"Intra-Asia partnerships will transform the landscape," he said. "The Asean-China free trade agreement has been successful, with Chinese exports to Asean growing by 21 per cent last year. Momentum is expected to continue with the potential implementation of the Asean Economic Community in 2015."
The Asean Economic Community aims to create a single market and production base that would allow Asean to be fully integrated into the global economy by 2015.
Biswas said that while it was unlikely that the Asean Economic Community will achieve all its goals by 2015, a partial achievement is possible as extensive negotiations get under way.