Growing With ASEAN: The AEC 2015 Vision

In 2003, the first broad outlines of AEC were mooted by the member states as part of a broader affirmation of the ASEAN Community’s formation by 2020. At the 13th ASEAN Summit in Singapore in 2007, ASEAN leaders agreed to bring forward the establishment of the AEC to 2015.

What is the AEC 2015 vision? In a nutshell, it is an initiative by the ASEAN bloc to transform the region into an area with free movement of goods, services, investment, and skilled labour, as well as freer flow of capital. At a broader level, the ASEAN leaders envisaged a partial economic union of the 10 member countries to usher in a new era of economic cooperation and prosperity.

The four main goals of the AEC are:

  • A single market and production base;
  • A competitive economic region;
  • Equitable economic development, as external trade is an integral part of the region; and
  • Integration into the global economy.

The AEC will establish ASEAN as a single market and production base. This will increase ASEAN’s dynamism and competitiveness, with new mechanisms and measures put in place to strengthen the implementation of existing economic initiatives, accelerate regional integration in priority sectors, facilitate movement of business persons, skilled labour and talents as well as strengthen the institutional mechanisms of ASEAN. 

As a first step towards realising the AEC, ASEAN has been implementing recommendations of the HLTF on ASEAN Economic Integration contained in the Bali Concord II.

At the same time, the AEC will address the development gaps and accelerate the integration of CLMV through the Initiative for ASEAN Integration and other regional initiatives. 

The AEC will also incorporate other areas, such as human resources development and capacity building, recognition of professional qualifications, closer consultation on macroeconomic and financial policies, trade financing measures, enhanced infrastructure and communications connectivity, development of electronic transactions through e-ASEAN, integrating industries across the region to promote regional sourcing, and promoting private-sector involvement for the building of the AEC.