The Association of Southeast Asian Nations is expected to experience robust economic growth throughout the next decade, with some predicting it could overtake the EU within a generation.

Whether or not that happens, there is consensus that the region will grow rapidly, both in terms of its economic might and its influence on world trade.

If ASEAN were a single country, it would be the seventh-largest economy in the world

With a combined GDP of $2.5 trillion, the region is already an economic powerhouse and is set to grow to become the equivalent of the world's fourth-largest economy by 2050.

By many other measures, the ASEAN region is already a player of global significance.

If ASEAN was a single country, where would it rank compared to others?
Image: Economist

ASEAN is the fourth-largest exporting region in the world, trailing only the European Union, North America and China/Hong Kong

ASEAN countries account for 7% of global exports, while trade with the United States has risen 62% since 2002.

The region is an important consumer of US goods, too. The average ASEAN consumer purchases nearly 1.75 times as many American goods per capita as the average Chinese consumer, and nearly nine times as many as the average Indian consumer.

The number of consumer households in ASEAN is expected almost to double by 2025

ASEAN has dramatically outpaced the rest of the world on growth in GDP per capita since the late 1970s.

Already some 67 million households in ASEAN countries are part of the “consuming class”, with incomes exceeding the level at which they can begin to make significant discretionary purchases. That number could almost double to 125 million households by 2025, making ASEAN a pivotal consumer market of the future.

ASEAN is home to 227 of the world’s largest companies

Back in 2006, ASEAN was home to the headquarters of 49 companies in the Forbes Global 2000. By 2013, that number had risen to 74.

ASEAN now includes 227 of the world’s companies with more than $1 billion in revenues. Singapore is a standout, ranking fifth in the world for density of corporate headquarters and first for foreign subsidiaries.

Image: McKinsey & Co

ASEAN is an exceptionally culturally diverse market

Indonesia is home to the world’s largest Muslim population: almost 90% of the nation’s people belong to the Islamic faith. The Philippines is more than 80% Roman Catholic and Thailand is more than 95% Buddhist. ASEAN is unique in bringing together such diverse nations into a single political and economic region.

Although the region occupies only 3% of the world’s total surface, 20% of all known species live deep in its mountains, jungles, rivers, lakes and seas

The region also contains seven of the world’s 25 recognized biodiversity hotspots – biologically rich areas under greatest threat of destruction.

ASEAN countries accounted for a quarter of global fish production

Of the world’s top 10 largest fish producers, four are from ASEAN – Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines.