AEC News - ASEAN leaders formally launch economic community
Source: Asia Insurance Review | Jan 2016
ASEAN leaders have formally signed a declaration to launch the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in a glittering ceremony at the end of the annual ASEAN Summit held in Kuala Lumpur in late November.
All 10 leaders took turns to sign the Kuala Lumpur Declaration on the Establishment of the ASEAN Community. In his speech, Mr Najib Razak, Malaysian Prime Minister and current chair of ASEAN, said the ASEAN Community went beyond economy and was also about all citizens being ASEAN.
“It is recognising that something special binds us, and making our citizens feel that ASEAN courses through their veins,” he said.
Beginning 1 January 2016, ASEAN’s 10 member states will be a single market and production base, further opening up the market that has a combined population of 630 million.
ASEAN countries have brought down tariff barriers and have removed some visa restrictions, allowing people to work in other countries provided the jobs are in eight sectors, including medical, engineering and tourism.
However, there is still work to do in the more politically sensitive areas such as opening up agriculture, steel, auto production and other protected sectors.
Last year, foreign direct investment in ASEAN nations totalled over US$136 billion, higher than that of the US and China.
With a single set of rules in doing business, ASEAN –which has the world’s third largest workforce – looks set to draw in more foreign direct investment to power growth between 5-6% annually.