The Asean Economic Community (AEC), with 74.5% overall implementation rate by Asean nations since the launch of the blueprint in 2008, is under way for realisation on Dec 31, 2015.
Asean deputy secretary-general Dr Lim Hong Hin said although the grouping is on track and hopes to reach 100% soon, it has to take into account the different levels of development in all Asean countries.
"The region's more advanced countries might be able to implement the measures faster than the others, depending on what institutional capacity they have and that the measures under the blueprint would lessen the economical gap between Asean members," he said at the launch of the Asean Comprehensive Investment Agreement (ACIA) Guidebook for Businesses and the ACIA Handbook for Investment Promotion Agencies here today.
He said Asean leaders are constantly looking at the bigger picture and what was best for the region, adding that the launch of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) framework last year was proof of that.
The RCEP aims to be the largest free-trade bloc in the world, comprising 10 Asean states and the six nations with which the group has free-trade agreements (FTAs), namely, China, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
"Negotiations are ongoing and we aim to conclude the RCEP by end-2015, following that, we will open up the partnership to the rest of the world.
"The biggest advantage of the RCEP is that we have a platform to start with because we have bilateral FTAs," he said.
On efforts to narrow the gap between Asean countries, he said outside assistance has been brought in to come up with a feasible framework for Asean to adopt to ensure its members would be on the same level come 2015.
"We have concluded the pilot test in seven countries last year and we will be extending it to the remaining three," he said.
The 10 countries under AEC are Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam.
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