Monday, December 10, 2012

ASEAN Economic Community?

I noted a story yesterday about Obama's miserable failure at the ASEAN summit. Here is what came out of the summit:
At the recent 21st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, it was agreed that talks should begin on a new regional trade treaty, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

The RCEP is to be negotiated between ASEAN’s ten member countries - Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam – and its current six free trade agreement (FTA) partners - Australia, New Zealand, China, India, South Korea and Japan.

The idea of such a new trade treaty, linking an integrated market comprising over 3bn people with a combined gross domestic product of some USD20 trillion, was first mooted at the 19th ASEAN Summit in November last year, when leaders of the ten ASEAN member states adopted the RCEP framework setting out the general principles for broadening and deepening ASEAN’s engagement with its FTA Partners, and signaled ASEAN’s commitment to play a central role in the emerging regional economic architecture.

It is said that the significant progress made through ASEAN’s FTAs with its six FTA partners has put the countries in a position to bring their economic partnership to a higher level by negotiating a comprehensive, high-quality agreement. If completed, the RCEP would be the largest regional trading arrangement to date.

“With the region accounting for more than half of the global market and about a third of the global economic output, there is no doubt that a successful RCEP would significantly contribute and boost global trade and investment,” said Surin Pitsuwan, ASEAN’s Secretary-General.

. . . In the meantime, ASEAN is also going forward to set up its ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015, and has urged all of its member countries to take the necessary internal measures to realize the AEC’s objectives of regional integration.
Oh, Obama got to say lots of feel-good stuff about human rights, but the end result was that the U.S. was out maneuvered and marginalized by China.

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