AseanOutlook.com – Southeast asia one of the most diverse and complex regions in the world the countries. In southeast asia together form the block called association of southeast asian nations or Asean.
And in the last couple of decades asean has emerged as a major economic power. But now the main question here is can Asean become as good as the European Union.
Well let’s try to find out Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and Singapore founded the asean organization in 1967. The aim was to improve economic political and social cooperation. The motive was also promoting stability and contain the influence of communism during the cold war.
Then after the end of the cold war brunei vietnam laos cambodia and myanmar joined the asean. The 10 members of Asean are vastly different nations from Indonesia with a large population to the tiny Brunei. Each country has diverse politics religion and economic growth.
Today the asean countries have the combined population of 647 million people and a combined gdp of around 2.8 trillion dollars. These GDP numbers put asean on the same level as the UK and India.
Along with this the group has the world’s third largest workforce of nearly 600 million people. This is attracting significant foreign investments. Favorite investment destination countries are Vietnam, Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia.
Now to make economic growth more rapid in 2015 they created the Asean Economic Community. This community want create a integrated single market to the global economy. But some experts believe that creating a single market economy could increase the gap between rich and poor.
As Asean has rich member countries like singapore and also poor countries like cambodia. So creating a single market could exploit poor countries more. Also the big businesses can take a lot of advantages of an open economy.
And this could create stiff competition for small and medium-sized businesses so to make a stable single market. Beside to overcome the economic challenges Asean can really look up to the European Union.
Asean and European Union share a lot of similarities. In fact both of them were founded to promote peace the eu was founded to bring peace after two world wars through economic integration. While Asean was founded to bring peace in southeast asia.
EU and Asean has similarity to make integrated single market platform for their members. But the EU guarantees a free movement of goods capital services and labor collectively.
Known as the four freedoms along with this EU has a single currency, a unified foreign and security policy on the other hand the economic integration of Asean members is not that smooth.
But still we can say they are on the track to achieve it as the Asean is constantly improving its economic integration. The importance of borders between nations is vanishing slowly along with this. The asean leaders are promoting the organization as a singular bloc.
Rather than a group of countries till now the asean has achieved great things. But problems are a part of any journey and the asean is also facing some major problems which could slow down their economic growth.
China’s rising influence is the first major problem in Southeast asia. China claims almost all of the south china sea. While Indonesia and other countries in Asean have also claims in the region. until now thats become dispute in the south china sea
The south china sea is very important for the Asean countries because almost all economic activities need this region and here asean is consistently failing to take strong and unified action against China.
Apart from this Asean is also facing climate change challenges rising temperature and sea level is a huge concern for the asean countries. The countries such as Vietnam, Philippine and Indonesia are particularly more vulnerable to climate change.
Rise of sea levels can cause Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia sinking. Current predictions are that by 2050 much of the jakarta city is going to be underwater.
So things seem pretty stiff for Asean but we still believe that they could overcome the challenges and improve their significance in the world.
And what do you think can Asean become as good as the EU?