Association of Southeast Asian Nations Economic Integration: Developments and Challenges


Siow Yue Chia, Singapore Institute of International Affairs, 2 Nassim Road, Singapore 258370. Email:


The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was formed in 1967 for geopolitical reasons, but faced with the competitive threat from the North American Free Trade Agreement and the European Single Market, it embarked in 1992 on the ASEAN Free Trade Area in goods, followed by liberalization of services trade and investment flows. A subsequent competitive threat from the rise of China and India led to the ASEAN Economic Community in 2003, targeted at creating a single market and production base and a competitive region with equitable economic development and integrated with the global economy. The ASEAN Economic Community is not quite a common market as it allows for only freer flows of capital and free flows of skilled labor. ASEAN's economic diversity led to difficulties with implementation and the need to narrow the development gap. ASEAN's dependence on global markets and investors led to the emphasis on open regionalism, support of the World Trade Organization, and free trade agreements with its major trade and investment partners.