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Backgrounder: ASEAN integration process

05-06-2011 15:37 BJT

JAKARTA, May 6 (Xinhua) -- The 18th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit will be held in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta from May 7 to 8, marking a new step in the ASEAN integration.

The forthcoming ASEAN Summit, under the theme of "ASEAN Community in a Global Community of Nations," is expected to discuss the ASEAN Charter and review latest development concerning the integration roadmap.

ASEAN was established on Aug. 8, 1967 in Bangkok by the five original member countries, comprising Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand. Brunei joined in 1984, Vietnam in 1995, Laos and Myanmar in 1997, and Cambodia in 1999.

The latest official figures showed that the ASEAN region, with a total population of about 592 million and a total area of 4.44 million square km, saw its combined GDP amount to some 1.5 trillion U.S. dollars.

The ASEAN Charter that entered into force in December 2008 stipulated that the ASEAN Community is comprised of three pillars, namely the ASEAN Political-Security Community, ASEAN Economic Community, and ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community. The ASEAN Charter provides guide to ASEAN people to move forward to one vision, one identity and one community.

The idea of a free trade area among ASEAN was raised at the fourth ASEAN Summit in 1992. ASEAN leaders expect to push forward cooperation level and economic integration through trade liberalization, so as to enhance the overall strength of ASEAN.

Following Asian Financial Crisis, ASEAN countries shared a strong feeling that only by building various mechanisms within the region, could ASEAN countries be resilient to challenges from outside and ensure regional security and stability. Hence, an idea of ASEAN Community was born.

At the 9th ASEAN Summit in 2003, the ASEAN Leaders resolved that an ASEAN Community shall be established. At the 10th ASEAN Summit in 2004, ASEAN leaders adopted the Plans of Action of the ASEAN Security Community and ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community.

At the 12th ASEAN Summit in January 2007, the leaders affirmed their strong commitment to accelerate the establishment of an ASEAN Community by 2015 and signed the Cebu Declaration on the Acceleration of the Establishment of an ASEAN Community by 2015.

At the 13th ASEAN Summit in November 2007, ASEAN leaders signed the ASEAN Charter and The Declaration on the ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint.

At the 14th ASEAN Summit in February 2009, ASEAN leaders signed the Cha-am Hua Hin Declaration on the Roadmap for an ASEAN Community (2009-2015).

At the 15th ASEAN summit in October 2009, ASEAN leaders decided to strengthen cooperation on education within the bloc.

At the 17th ASEAN summit in October 2010, ASEAN leaders adopted a document on strengthening connectivity within the regional body. According to ASEAN secretary general Surin Pitsuwan, the general plan of ASEAN connectivity involves some 700 projects at an estimated cost of 38 million U.S. dollars.

In terms of governance structure, ASEAN summit is the highest- decision making organ for the 10-member bloc and the ASEAN Secretariat is responsible for coordination among member countries.

ASEAN has also set up a coordinating council and three community councils including the ASEAN Political-Security Community Council, ASEAN Economic Community Council and ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community Council for its operation.

Editor:Yang Jie |Source: Xinhua

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