ASEAN is a Geo-Political and economic organization of 10 countries located in southeast Asia. Which was founded in 1967 by Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thiland.
Since then, membership has expanded to Include Brunet Burma (Myanmar), Cambodia, LAO And Vietnam.
Its aims Include.
- Acceleration economic growth.
- Social progress.
- Cultural development among its members.
Peace and stability of the region.
Provides opportunities for member countries to discuss differences peacefully.
ASEAN spans over an arean of 4.46 million kilometer2 with a population of app 580 million people, 8.7% of the world population. In 2009 its combined GDP had grown to more than USD1.5 trillion Dollar. If ASEAN was a single country, it would rank as the 9th largest economy in the world.
History, Expansion and Progress:
ASEAN was preceded by an organization called the association of southeast Asia commonly called ASA an alliance consisting of the Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand that was formed in 1961. The bole itself, however was established in 1967 commonly known as the Bangkok Declaration.
The motivations for the birth of ASEAN were so that its member’s Governing elite aould concentrate on.
- National Building.
- Common fear of communism.
- Reduced faith or mistrust of external powers in the 1960s.
- A desire for economic development- not to mention Indonesia's ambition to become a regional hegemon through regional cooperation and the hope on the part of Malaysia and Singapore to constrain Indonesia and bring it into a more cooperative framework.
Peace & Stability
Aside from improving each member state's economies, the bloc also focused on peace and stability in the region. On 15 December 1995, the Southeast Asian Nuclear-weapon-Free Zone Treaty was signed with the intention of turning Southeast Asia into a Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone. The treaty took effect on 28 March 1997 after all but one of the member states have ratified it. It became fully effective in 2001, after the Philippines ratified it, effectively banning all nuclear weapons in the region.
Through the Bali Concord II in 2003, ASEAN has subscribed to the notion of democratic peace, which means all member countries believe democratic processes will promote regional peace and stability. Also, the non-democratic members all agreed that it was something all member states should aspire to. The leaders of each country, particularly Mahathir Mohammad of Malaysia also felt the need to further integrate the region. Beginning in 1997, the bloc began creating organizations within its framework with the intention of achieving this goal.
ASEAN plus three was the first of these and was created to improve existing ties with the people’s Republic of China, Japan and South Korea. This was followed by the even larger East Asia Summit, which included these countries as well as India, asutralia and new Zealand, this new grouping acted as prerequisite for the planned East Asia Community, which was supposedly patterned after the now-defunest European community.
At the turn of the 21st century issues shifted to involve a more environmental prespective. The organization strated to discuss environmental agreements. These included the signing of the ASEAN agreement on transboundary Haze Pollution in 2002 as an attempt to control haze population in southeast Asia. Unfornuately this was unsuccessful due to the outbreaks of the 2005 Malaysia Haze and the 2006 southeast Asian Haze.
Other environmental treaties introduces by the organization include the cebu declaration on east Asian Energy security. The ASEAN wildlife enforcement network ASEAN WEN in 2005 and the Asia-pacific partnership on clean development and climated both of which are responses to the potential effects of climate change. Climate change is of current intrest.
In 2006, ASEAN was given observer status at the United Nations General Assembly.12** As a response, the organization awarded the status of "dialogue partner" to the United Nations. In 2007, ASEAN stated that it aims to complete all its free trade agreements with China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand by 2013, in line with the establishment of the ASE AN Economic Community by 2015.
In November 2007 the ASEAN members signed the ASEAN Charter, a constitution governing relations among the ASEAN members and establishing ASEAN itself as an international legal entity. During the same year, the Cebu Declaration on East Asian Energy Security was signed in Cebu on 15 January- 2007, by ASEAN and the other members of the EAS (Australia, People's Republic of China, India, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea), which promotes energy security by finding energy alternatives to conventional fuels.
The ASEAN Plus three is a meeting between ASEAN, China, Japan and south Korea and is primarily held during each ASEAN summit on February 27, 2009 a free trade agreement with the ASEAN regional block of 10 countries and new Zealand and its close partner Australia was signed it is estimated that this FTA would boost aggregate GDP across the 12 countries by more than 48 billion US Dollars over the period 2000-2020.
In the I960s, the push for decolonization promoted the sovereignty of Indonesia, and Malaysia among others. Since nation building is often messy - vulnerable to foreign intervention, the governing elite wanted to be free to implement independent policies with the knowledge that neighbors would refrain from interfering in their domestic affairs. Territorially small members such as Singapore and Brunei were consciously fearful of force and coercive measures from much bigger neighbors like Indonesia and Malaysia.
"Through political dialogue and confidence building no tension has escalated into armed confrontation among ASEAN member countries since its establishment more than three decades ago".
The ASEAN way can be traced back to the signing of the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in South East Asian. "Fundamental principles adopted from tins included:
- Mutual respect for the independence, sovereignty, equality, territorial integrity, and national identity of all nations.
- The right of every State to lead its national existence free from external interference, subversion or coercion.
- Non-interference in the internal affairs of one another.
- Settlement of differences or disputes by peaceful manner.
- Renunciation of the threat or use of force.
- Effective cooperation among themselves".
On die surface, the process of consultations and consensus is supposed to be a democratic approach to decision making, but the ASEAN process has been managed through close interpersonal contacts among the top leaders. All of these features, namely non-interference, informality, minimal institutionalization, consultation and consensus, non-use of force and non confrontation have constituted what is called the ASEAN Way.
Apart from consultations and consensus ASEAN’s agenda setting and decision making processes can be usefully understood in terms of the so called Track I and Tack II. Track 1 refers to the practice of diplomacy among government channels the participants stand as representatives of their respective states and reflect the official positions of their governments during negotiations and discussions.
All official decision are made in Track 1. Therefore, Track 1 refers to intergovernmental processes. Track 2 differs Slightly from Track 1 involving civil society groups and other individuals with various links who works alongside governments. This track eanbles governments to discuss controversial issues and test new ideas without making official statements or binding commitments, and if necessary, backtrack on positions.
Although Track II dialogues are sometimes cited as examples of the involvement of civil society in regional decision making process by governments and other second track actors NGOs have rarely got access to this track, meanwhile participants are, in most cases, very much linked to their respective governments and dependent on government funding for their academic and policy-relevant activities and many working in Track II have previous bureaucratic experience. Their recommendations especially in economic integration are often closer to ASEAN’s decisions than the rest of civil society’s positions.
The track that acts as a forum for civil society in Southeast Asia is called Track HL Hack m participants are generally civil society groups who represent a particular idea or brand.Track HI networks claim to represent communities and people who are largely marginalized from political power centers and unable to achieve positive change without outside assistance. This track tries to influence government policies indirectly by lobbying, generating pressure through the media. Third-track actors also organize and/or attend meetings as well as conferences to get access to Track I officials.
While Track II meetings and interactions with Track I actors have increased and intensified, rarely has the rest of civil society had the opportunity to interface with Track II. Those with Track I have been even rarer.
Economic development & march towards "Economic community"
Throughout the 1970s, the organization embarked on a program of economic cooperation, This Sundered in the mid-1980s and was only revived around 1991 due to a Thai proposal for a regional free trade area.
During the 1990s, the block experienced an increase in both membership as well as in the drive for further integration. Member states continued to work for further integration. In 1992, the Common Effective Preferential Tariff (CEPT) scheme was signed as a schedule for phasing tariffs and as a goal to increase the region’s competitive advantage as a production base geared for the world market.
This lawwould acr as the framework for the ASEAN free trade area. After the east Asian financial crisis of 1997 a revival of the Malaysian proposal was established in chiang mai, known as the chiang mai initiative, which calls for better integration beteen the economies of ASEAn as well as the ASEAN plus three countries (China, Japan, and South Korea.
ASEAN has emphasized regional cooperation in the tree pillars of security. Sociocultural and economic integration. The regional grouping has made the move progress in economic integration aiming to create an ASEAN economic community (AEC) by 2015.
Free Trade Area:
The foundation of the AEC is the ASEAN Free Trade Area(AFTA), a common external preferential tariff scheme to promote the free flow of goods within, ASEAN.™ The ASKAN Free Trade Area (AFRTA) is an agreement by the member nations of ASEAN concerning local manufacturing in all ASEAN countries. The AFT A agreement was signed on 28 January 1992 in Singapore.
When the AIT4 agreement w as originally signed, AS FAN had six members, namely, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. Vietnam joined in 1995, Laos and Myanmar in I997, and (Cambodia in 1999. The latecomers have not fully met the AM AN obligations, but they are officially considered part of the AFTA «s they were required to sign (he agreement upon entry- into ASEAN, and were givenl longer time frames in which lo meet AFTAVs tariff reduction obligations.
Comprehensive Investment Area:
The ASEAN Comprehensive Investment Area (ACIA) will encourage the free flow of investment within ASEAN. The main principles of the ACIA are as follows.
- All industries are to be opened up for investment, with exclusions to be phased out according lo schedules.
- National treatment is granted immediately to ASEAN investors with few exclusions.
- Elimination of investment impediments.
- Streamlining of investment process and procedures.
- Enhancing transparency.
- Undertaking investment facilitation measures.
Full realization of the ACIA with the removal of temporary exclusion lists in manufacturing agriculture, fisheries, forestry and mining is scheduled by 2010 for most ASEAN members and by 2015 for the CLMV (Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Vietnam)countries.
Trade in Services:
An ASEAN framework agreement on trade in services was adopted at the ASEAN summit in Bangkok in December 1995. Under AFAS, ASEAN member states enter into successive rounds of negotiations to liberalize trade in services the aim of submitting increasingly higher level of commitments. The negotiations result in commitments that are set fourth in schedules of specific commitments annexed to the framework agreement these schedules are often referred to as packages of services commitments, at present ASEAN has concluded seven packages of commitments under AFAS.
Single Aviation Market:
The ASEAN single aviation market (SAM) proposed by the ASEAN air transport working group supported by the ASEAN senior transport officials meeting and endorsed by the ASEAN transport Ministers will introduce an open-sky arrangement to the region by 2015. The ASEAN sam will be expected to fully liberalize air travel between its member states allowing ASEAN to directly benefit from growth in air travel around the world and also freeing up tourism trade, investment and services flows between member states.
Beginning 1st December 2008, restrictions on third and fourth Freedoms of the air between capital cities of member states for air passengers services will be removed. While from 1st January 2009 there will be full liberalization of air freight services in the region, while by 1st January 2011, there w ill be liberalization of fifth freedom traffic rights between all capital cities.
Free Trade Agreements With Other Countries:
ASEAN has concluded free trade agreements with PR China, Korea, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and most recently India.1*61 The agreement with People's Republic of China created the ASFAN-Cluna Free Trade Area (ACFTA), which went into full effect on January 1, 2010. In addition, ASEAN is currently negotiating a free trade agreement with the European Union. Republic of China (Taiwan) has also expressed interest in an agreement with ASEAN but needs to overcome diplomatic objections from China.
The Fast Asia Summit (FAS) is a pan-Asian forum held annually by the leaders of 6 countries in Fast Mia and the region, with ASEAN in a leadership position. The discussed issues including trade, energy and security and the summit has a role in regional community building. The members of the summit are all 10 members of ASEAN together with China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia and NewZealand who Combined represent almost half of the world’s population. Russia has applied for membership of the summit and in 2005 was a guest for the first EAS at the invitation of the host Malaysia.
The first summit was held in Kuala Lumpur on 14 December 2005 ASEAN Regional Forum, The ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) is a formal, official, multilateral dialogue in Asia Pacific region. As of July 2007, it is consisted of 27 participants ARF objectives are to foster dialogue and consultation, and promote confidence-building and preventive diplomacy in the region. The ARF met for the first time in 1994.
The current participants in the ARF are as follows: ail the ASEAN members, Australia Bangladesh, Canada, the Pole's Republic of China, the European Union, India, Japan. North Korea, South Korea, Mongolia, New Zealand, Pakistan Papua New Guinea, Russia, Timor-Leste, United States and Sri-Lanka. The Republic of China (also known as Taiwan) has been excluded since the establishment of the ARF, and issues regarding the Taiwan Strait are neither discussed at the ARF meetings nor stated in the ARF Chairman's Statements.