Can ASEAN Economic Community Be A Reality By 2015?

In 2007 ASEAN began the journey to create an ASEAN Community by 2015. As ASEAN counts down to the deadline, CARI polls our respondants from various backgrounds to assess the progress made, challenges encountered and of the destination itself against deep changes in global political economy.

YAM Tunku ‘Abidin Muhriz

The Founding President, the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS)

There’s no reason for us to try to achieve it artificially. There needs to be democratic legitimacy before any sort of community can be legitimately called as such rather than being a lead driven, top down imposed invention. It must have the organic evolution to achieve legitimacy.

Prof. Dr. Paul Joseph Lim Huat Chye

University Kebangsaan Malaysia

It’s not a good deadline to work towards. Even if it doesn’t happen in 2015, it’s ok. It’s probably not realistic. Apart from having the political will, you must have the institutions in place to push it; institutions that are empowered to push it.

H.E. Miles Kupa

Australian High Commissioner

It’s well on the way. It would bring a lot of benefits to ASEAN but even more benefits to businesspeople from many other areas especially Australia. Australian businesspeople who trade and invest in the region would be very encouraged if there was easier, automatic access across ASEAN & if there was harmonisation of rules & governance arrangements.

YBhg Tan Sri Dr. Munir Majid

Former Chairman, Malaysia Airline System Berhad

I don’t think they would be able to achieve it. They should think of the other tracks of community building of integration, which could be described as the bottom up and the functional approach to the integrative efforts overall, not just economic.

Datuk M. Supperamaniam

Distinguished Fellow, Institute of Strategic and International Studies (ISIS)

There is no conduit or channel where the private sector is able to interact with the bureaucrats, the policymakers on a systematic & regular basis. It’s important that we have a structured channel of communication between the private sector and the policymakers.

Dr. Juwono Sudarsono

Former Minister of Defence, Repubic of Indonesia

We have to do it because this is the commitment, to create a community, of young professionals, in business in banking and government to have the sense of ASEAN wide community. It’s a must. And it’s a trans generational commitment so its imperative that each of these countries train very early on the young people in the professional side of banking, commerce, from the very beginning, beyond 2015.

Rodolfo Severino JR.

Former secretary General of Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Head of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore

Well, it depends on how they overcome these challenges of vested interests, fear of competition, of the ignorance by the business sector of the benefits of integration.

Ambassaor Kesavapany

Executive Director, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore

My personal view is that I don’t know whether the boost of AEC2015 is a realisable proposition. Maybe in the field of trade it may be realisable because by AFTA, we have done quite a fair bit by reducing tariffs. But tariffs alone or trade alone is not the sum total of what’s an economic community. An economic community has a lot of other factors, for example services, movement of persons, mutual recognition agreements, capital flows, people movement. Now all these add up to what is generally meant by economic community. Take the example of the EU, they have all these features but at the same time some people are beginning to ask whether the EU model is suitable for ASEAN because we come from very low and diverse bases, different bases.

Anies Baswedan

President of Paramadina, University in Jakarta

The critical aspect here is ensuring that each government is able to persuade its citizens about this process, because my concern is not about whether this economic integration is a success or not. My concern is also these governments are also successful. Imagine a country undergoing this process, and then the citizens [view] this as not in the interest of the people and start to question the legitimacy of this – this could possibly create problems. I think this is very important on that aspect.

Michael Enright

Professor at the School of Business, University of Hong Kong

Well, something CALLED an ASEAN Economic Community will come into being by 2015, but to tell you the truth, I doubt that it will have all of the attributes that were once mooted.

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