Global Agenda Council on South-East Asia 2012-2013
South-East Asia has demonstrated remarkable resilience and staged robust economic recovery after the global crisis of 2008-2009. With a total population of 570 million and a combined GDP of US$ 1.7 trillion, South-East Asia may well be a force to reckon with if its countries can cooperate more fully. Key leaders in the region must understand the unique position South-East Asia occupies vis-à-vis global economic growth and future outlook. Before the region can achieve its potential international prominence, all stakeholders must make a firm commitment towards integration.
The Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) has set 2015 as the target to realize an ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) characterized by a single market and production base. While progress has been made in terms of reduction in tariff rates, realization of free trade agreements and mutual recognition arrangements, long-term management of the economic integration process is necessary to achieve planned targets. This requires strong political will and commitment from all the leaders in the region.
In navigating the journey towards integration, there are key issues that South-East Asian nations need to address collectively. Foremost among them are education and human capital development, which are integral in shaping the future of the region. South-East Asian nations must also step up to the “soft” growth issues such as health standards, literacy, environmental protection and sustainable development in order to complement economic progress.
Another pertinent issue of the day is Myanmar’s transition, which presents both challenges and opportunities for the region. Myanmar’s progress is important to ASEAN, and strengthened ties with ASEAN will bring in much needed trade and cross-border investment to Myanmar. The region offers many lessons of successful economic growth and development which Myanmar can emulate to achieve strong and inclusive growth while avoiding social instability and ensuring environmental sustainability.
- GDP growth in the ASEAN six (Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam) in 2010 was 7.6% and is expected to reach an average of 5.6% in 2012-2016.
- In 2009, ASEAN’s trade with China reached US$ 178 billion, a ninefold increase compared to the 1998 figure of US$ 20 billion.
- ASEAN countries attracted over US$ 74 billion as foreign direct investment in 2010.
“If you look at the flow of people-to-people exchanges between Korea and ASEAN, people understood gradually how important South-East Asia is to Korea and the Korean people.”
Chung Hae-Moon, Secretary-General, ASEAN-Korea Centre, Seoul, Republic of Korea
“…Myanmar is uniquely positioned to tap into Asia's growing economic strength and prosperity. Better connectivity with other South and South-East Asian nations will also unleash incredible opportunities for trade and commerce.”
Stephen P. Groff, Vice-President, Operations 2, Asian Development Bank, Manila
Roadmap for an ASEAN Community 2009-2015
Beeson, Mark. "Contemporary Southeast Asia"
Severino, Rodolfo C. "Southeast Asia in Search of an ASEAN Community: Insights from the Former ASEAN Secretary-General"
9th Asia-Europe Meeting Summit of Heads of State and Government (ASEM 9)
5-6 November 2012
21st ASEAN Summit and 7th East Asia Summit
18-20 November 2012
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit
20-21 December 2012
New Delhi, India
World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2013
World Economic Forum on East Asia
5-7 June 2013
The Council aims to strengthen the integration agenda for South-East Asia by prioritizing improvements in education and human capital development. The region is characterized by socio-economic disparities, ranging from more-developed states not having enough highly skilled labour to less-advanced states where the education system suffers from a lack of effective infrastructure and qualified teachers. By addressing education systems and other means of human capital development, South-East Asia will add value to its economies and contribute to sustainable, long-term development to complement fast economic growth.
Regional growth is another important element of ASEAN integration that the Council will concentrate on during the 2012-2014 term. The Council on South-East Asia believes it is crucial for ASEAN governments to put in place a framework that promotes investment inflow and private-sector growth. By encouraging the sustainable growth of the private sector, the government can make it the driving force of the domestic economy, thereby creating new jobs and improving people’s livelihood.
ASEAN is seen to be playing a crucial role in Myanmar’s transition and the Council aims to propel discussion in the right direction to enable ASEAN to do so. It is essential for ASEAN to strengthen Myanmar’s integration into the association and to enhance the country’s communications and economic connectivity with other member countries. The Council believes that it is critical to ensure that Myanmar is able to learn from ASEAN members’ successes and pitfalls on the road to economic and social development. It is imperative to help Myanmar achieve inclusive and equitable growth with particular focus on capacity building, health and education, and the promotion of the private sector.
Research Analyst: Karen Wong, Research Analyst, Global Agenda Councils, firstname.lastname@example.org
Council Manager: Phuong Duong, Senior Community Manager, Asia Pacific, email@example.com
Forum Lead: Sushant Palakurthi Rao, Senior Director, Head of Asia, firstname.lastname@example.org