Kuala Lumpur (dpa) – The Association of South-East Asian Nations
(ASEAN) comprises Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines,
Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar.
The member states have a total population of nearly 605 million.
ASEAN’s aggregate gross domestic product was more than 2 trillion
dollars in 2011, and is expected reach nearly 4 trillion dollars by
2020, according to the International Monetary Fund.
In 2003, ASEAN leaders agreed to transform the bloc into a region
with free movement of goods, services, investments, skilled labour
and capital by 2020.
Four years later, the group accelerated the timetable to create a
single market and production base by 2015 – a timetable seen by
critics as optimistic – which would make the region the
eighth-largest economy in the world.
ASEAN agreements are based on consensus, with each member country’s
position taken into consideration before any decisions are made. This
non-confrontational process has been criticized by some observers as
a weakness of the organization.