Beyond 2015

Outstanding issues in the AEC

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The push for forming an ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) comprising a single market and production base, a competitive economic region, equitable economic development and integration into a global economy by 2015 represents a significant shift in ASEAN regional integration from a free trade area alone. An AEC Blueprint was adopted in 2007 outlining the strategic measures and timetable for implementation from 2008 to 2015. While the promises of greater integration will bring benefits to the region, there are considerable doubts as to whether the goals of the AEC can be achieved by 2015. The objectives of this paper are two-fold. First, it will assess the status in the implementation of the AEC Blueprint based on the AEC Scorecard that was adopted in 2012. Second, it will discuss the remaining outstanding challenges in achieving each of the four pillars of the AEC. This analytical exercise is in order as the Blueprint may not have all the necessary measures in place for achieving the four pillars of the AEC. The main findings in this paper point to three key gaps, namely the implementation, commitment and vision gaps as outstanding issues for achieving an AEC by 2015. Despite its many limitations, the Scorecard does show that a great number of the measures have not yet been implemented by 2012. Even though the number of enacted measures is undoubtedly set to increase by the end of 2015, it is clear that all the AEC Blueprint targets cannot possibly be achieved by then. The year 2015 is therefore not the end-point for the attainment of the AEC. While the implementation gap shows that much more is needed to be done, a commitment gap can be spotlighted if one compares the actual commitments with the goals of each pillar. Ambiguities and flexibilities have rendered some of the commitments ineffective for achieving the intended liberalization and pushing through the needed reforms. This commitment gap indicates that perhaps not all parties are convinced that economic integration will bring net benefits to states and the region as a whole. Perhaps, more empirical evidence is needed at country level for each member state to be convinced that economic integration within ASEAN is a priority and increasingly more relevant in the coming years as global uncertainties continue to cloud the horizon. Finally, although by choice and design, there is a distinct and significant difference between ASEAN’s vision of economic integration and that of the EU. Many, however, hold the EU standard as the gold standard for economic integration. Yet, in the case of ASEAN the goals of the AEC are substantial and significant enough at this stage of the process for the region to reinvigorate its integration efforts without having to strive to move towards the EU model. In other words, delivering on the outstanding issues should be the focus of the post-2015 agenda, rather than a mantic new grand design promising much more than the current vision.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-40
Number of pages40
JournalTamkang Journal of International Affairs
Volume18
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2015

Fingerprint

ASEAN
community
economics
economic integration
commitment
EU
Economics
free trade area
gold standard
regional integration
liberalization

Keywords

  • ASEAN economic community
  • Commitment gap
  • Implementation gap
  • Outstanding challenges
  • Vision gap

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Education
  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Strategy and Management

Cite this

Beyond 2015 : Outstanding issues in the AEC. / Tham, Siew Yean.

In: Tamkang Journal of International Affairs, Vol. 18, No. 4, 01.04.2015, p. 1-40.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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