Sunday, August 12, 2007

ASEAN economic integration in the making?

The recently concluded 40th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting, which Manila hosted, took stride in attaining the most ambitious plan that would eventually unify the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in so far as economic integration is concerned.
This would, in effect, put into stream the European Union-style of economic governance, which will pave the way for the establishment of regional free trade zone by 2015. Although many analysts considered this move as too ambitious, knowing how advance countries would react to such a plan, whose rules are now being ironed out to make it once and for all, a reality.
Another aspect that was brought to the table and discussed by the ASEAN ministers focused on creating a human rights body in the region, which the Myanmar generals didn't seem to agree. Records showed that Myanmar has remained a human rights violator, after it has failed to free Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, a signal that is expected to restore democracy in that part of Asia.
Economic analysts have strong feeling that this ambitious plan will spark a greater desire to force stronger cooperation in the area of security, economy, and social justice. But whose talking? Isn't the Philippines one of the human rights violators? That what the international community's impression at this time.

World Bank records showed that the incidence of poverty in the region has one of the highest in the world. World Bank officials blamed this on ther rampant graft and corruption that is taking place in many parts of Asia. This problem keeps pestering the smooth flow of progress, which makes it all the more difficult for the poor to survive in the dog-eat-dog competition.
But in so far as economic growth in the region is concerned, trade imbalance brought byt the impacts of free trade will still be a problem to bear for those ASEAN-members whose economies are weak to compete under a globalized world. In Asia alone, China is now dominating the regional trade competition which ASEAN must address in order to level the playing field, If not, economic opportunities for the citizens of weaker economies will be far from reality. However, the only incentive is that overflooding of cheaper goods into the weaker markets is something that local producers would certainly become a pain in the ass.

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