Mark Lempp (The Jakarta Post)
Wed, March 9, 2022
Long in the making, the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) was officially launched at the end of 2015 – and nothing more has happened since. The decades-old vision of closer political and economic integration in the region still holds, but the obstacles to achieving it remain deep and contentious aspects of harmonization have been postponed.
Discussions have since shifted to broader trade agreements that would include more than the 10 ASEAN countries. Among the many options considered in a highly politicized dossier, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) came out on top.
The RCEP, which groups the economic superpowers of China and Japan, dismissed the AEC. But that has by no means made the AEC obsolete, as ASEAN’s vision has always been about more than free trade. This involves harmonizing standards, increasing trade in goods, capital and people, cross-border sectoral collaboration, deepening political cooperation and promoting an ASEAN identity.
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