The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was formed to strengthen cooperation between its member states rather than to integrate them, a noted economist of the University of Indonesia (UI) has said.
“This regional grouping is not a move toward economic integration, particularly total integration,” Faisal Basri told a seminar on strengthening Indonesia’s role in the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in Jakarta on Tuesday.
Faisal argued that the formation of the AEC, which is set to begin in 2015, was aimed at making ASEAN appear more attractive to investors outside the region.
“Thus, from the beginning, ASEAN was not formed for the sake of integration as seen with the European Union [EU],” he said.
According to Faisal, the term “connectivity”, used to address the relationships between ASEAN member states, is a “soft term” that shows ASEAN is not prepared for integration because of the geographical conditions of its members.
While the majority of EU member states are located on the European continent, the geographical arrangement of ASEAN member countries is archipelagic, he stated.
Formed in Bangkok, Thailand, in 1967, ASEAN currently comprises Indonesia, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.
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