The ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) is the goal of ASEAN regional economic integration by 2015.
AEC envisages the following key characteristics:
i. A single market and production base
ii. A highly competitive economic region
iii. A region of equitable economic development
iv. A region fully integrated into the global economy
Within the overall context of economic and political integration, the ASEAN countries are pursuing an ambitious agenda of creating a single market and production base based on five core elements: free flow of goods, free flow of services, free flow of investment, and a freer flow of capital and free flow of skilled labour. The ASEAN Leaders adopted theASEAN Economic Blueprint (PDF) at the 13th ASEAN Summit on 20 November 2007 in Singapore to serve as a coherent master plan guiding the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community 2015.
Intra-ASEAN trade in goods has increased from 21% in 1998 to 27% in 2008 of total ASEAN trade. While average tariffs inside ASEAN has come down to effectively zero tariff for ASEAN-6 over the same period. However, there are still significant barriers for achieving the ASEAN Single Market and Production base, in particular in the fields of customs integration (including transport arrangements) and standards/technical barriers to trade.
The AEC areas of cooperation include human resources development and capacity building; recognition of professional qualifications; closer consultation on macroeconomic and financial policies; trade financing measures; enhanced infrastructure and communications connectivity; development of electronic transactions through e-ASEAN; integrating industries across the region to promote regional sourcing; and enhancing private sector involvement for the building of the AEC.
The ASEAN Secretariat has prepared the ASEAN Economic Community Handbook for Business with the aim of engaging the private sector and other stakeholders, including Dialogue and Development Partners, civil society and academia, and sharing up-to-date information on the progress of ASEAN's regional economic integration. This reader-friendly Handbook will hopefully support the AEC Roadmap for the successful realisation of an integrated ASEAN in 2015, while highlighting the many exciting opportunities for businesses in ASEAN.
For more information about the AEC, please visit http://www.asean.org/communities/asean-economic-community