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NEW FACES OF ASEAN PART 1
Asian Development Bank. (2009). The Economics of Climate Chnge in Southeast Asia: A Regional Review. Manila: Asian Development Bank.
Association of Southeast Asian Nations. (2011, March). ASEAN Vision 2020 and Community Blueprints. Retrieved March 23, 2011, from Association of Southeast Asian Nations: http://www.aseansec.org/
Bremmer, I. (2010). The End of the Free Market: who wins the war between states and corporations? New York, NY: Portfolio, a member of Penguin Group (USA).
Central Intelligence Agency. (2011, March 23). Comparison of ASEAN member nations - GDP, Industry Structure, etc. Retrieved March 23, 2011, from The World Factbook: https://ww.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/
Rodrik, D. (2007). One Economics, Many Recipes: Globalization, Institutions and Economic Growth. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Virtual ASEAN; social diversity; internet technology; logistics; economic gap; climate change; China; Institutionalization
Keywords used in the ASEAN Vision 2020 statement at Kuala Lumpur in 1997 implied an undefined view, almost a virtual ASEAN community. ASEAN was called variously as a partnership, a community, a market, a concert and a Zone. Significantly, one word that was not used suggests there was no vision then of ASEAN as a Union governed by a supra-bureaucracy.
Strong and weak impulses constantly pull together or further divide the ten member nations. These impulses also interact with each other. ASEAN has come a long way from its founding in 1967 but will need to do more to build a stronger collective. Specifically these impulses that contribute to the grand scenario on what virtualization of ASEAN may look like are:
A. Impulses that tend to hold or pull together
B. Divisive impulses
From these considerations, our conclusion is not whether further and closer integration will happen but when. Meanwhile, the pressing needs and constraints of the time may create more bi- or multi-lateral ties between members on specific issues of interest.
The differences in the levels and aspects of development are the biggest obstacles to closer ASEAN integration on the ground. The lessons from the painful early stages of German unification, and of EU’s current money problems, and the counterfactual success of the Hong Kong-China “one country-two systems” highlight the formidable obstacles that will confront any economic and political union.
With an economy of US$3 trillion growing at 7.5% and a population of 613.8 million , ASEAN represents a market almost equal to India and half of China and growing at a respectable gallop.
China is the Giant Panda?
The influence of large and fast growing emerging markets at the periphery of ASEAN (particularly China) is a weak impulse pulling apart ASEAN integration. The relationship is defined by growing trade between China and ASEAN member countries and by four other current issues: the Spratly dispute, dams on the Mekong River, railways from Kunming to Singapore, and the gas lines through Myanmar. It will also be affected by China’s choices regarding North Korea and its relationship with Japan.
The ASEAN Directorate is working hard to design programs to meet the 2020 vision from the Blueprints listed in the table below. This will tend to bring ASEAN members closer together even though some of these programs tend to create multi-speed development tracks that do not help integration.
Implementation of new institutions and infrastructure such as a customs union, together with improved air, sea land transport linkages and intellectual property protection as designed in the Blueprints, will further promote integration. Otherwise, the alternative scenario built around bilateral or sub-regional approaches will become de facto in a multi-track community building.
One of the many key findings of an ADB report on climate change is that the region will lose 75% of its present rice growing areas in the worst case climate scenario when nothing is done today to address the potential problem . For ASEAN this of course is a common concern due to rice’s place at the heart of Asian diets, and the importance of rice exports to the economies of ASEAN nations.