Achieving an integrated economic community will boost general welfare among ASEAN Member States by more than 5 percent—or more than six times the effect estimated for the ASEAN Free Trade Agreement. This is the main conclusion of Realizing the ASEAN Economic Community: A Comprehensive Assessment, a study formally launched on November 14, 2009.
At the launch ceremony, Chia Siow Yue of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs said that the AEC “will result in at least a 5.3% increase in welfare in the region.” Supported by a team of researchers in ASEAN, Dr. Chia Siow Yue and Dr. Michael G. Plummer of the East West Center directed and edited the study—the first comprehensive examination of the AEC’s potential.The study was prepared through the ASEAN-US Technical Assistance and Training Facility, a program managed by Nathan Associates Inc. and jointly funded by USAID and the U.S. Department of State.
The authors also estimate that the AEC will increase ASEAN real income significantly and that all member states will benefit. While there will be costs as well as benefits, the net benefit will be high, including expanded trade in goods, more foreign direct investment, rising per capita GDP, and competitive consumer markets.
Speakers at the launch included ASEAN Secretary General Surin, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary for Southeast Asia and Ambassador for ASEAN Affairs Scot Marciel, the President of the US-ASEAN Business Council Alex Feldman, and the Chairman of the Board of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Robert Milligan.
Ambassador Marciel said that “it has always been in the interest of the U.S. government to see ASEAN as a secure, prosperous, peaceful, and democratic region” and that the “study allows all economic actors, both in the region and international, to identify with the different benefits an integrated ASEAN will bring them.”
Mr. Feldman also welcomed the study’s findings, praising it as “a powerful statement of what US-ASEAN Business Council members have believed since the AEC Blueprint was adopted in 2007: that the ASEAN Economic Community will benefit all stakeholders large and small, within ASEAN and without.”
On November 15 during the first ever US-ASEAN Leaders Meeting, Secretary General Surin Pitsuwan presented a copy of the study to President Obama.
The study may be purchased through academic press of the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS).