Hoe kan ASEAN haar volle potentieel benutten?

SINGAPORE – Zijn tien landen met verschillende culturen, tradities, talen, politieke systemen en niveaus van economische ontwikkeling in staat om eensgezind hun collectieve potentieel uit te breiden? Dat is de vraag waar de Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) al tientallen jaren mee worstelt. Als je afgaat op de ambitieuze samenwerkingsplannen van haar leiders zou het antwoord wel eens ja kunnen zijn.

Wat ooit begon als een eenvoudige operatie om invoertarieven te reduceren is uitgegroeid tot een blauwdruk voor een dynamische open markt met 600 miljoen consumenten en een productie die direct kan concurreren met de grootste economieën ter wereld. Als de zogenaamde ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) eenmaal in werking is zal deze Zuidoost-Azië en zijn rol in de wereldeconomie geheel transformeren.

Het economische potentieel van de ASEAN is ontegenzeggelijk indrukwekkend. De lidstaten (Brunei, Cambodja, Indonesië, Laos, Maleisië, Myanmar, de Filipijnen, Singapore, Thailand en Vietnam) vormen samen de op zes na grootste economie ter wereld. De internationale handel van de ASEAN is de laatste tien jaar bijna verdriedubbeld. En de directe buitenlandse investeringen stromen de regio binnen door multinationals die willen profiteren van de snelgroeiende middenklasse en strategische locatie op het kruispunt tussen China, Japan en India.

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