ASEAN, if considered as a single economy, is set to be the fourth largest economy in the world by 2050 based on the region’s current rate of economic growth, according to Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Abdul.
Najib said it would be the seventh largest in the world now if ASEAN were seen as one economy, with its combined gross domestic product in 2014 at US$2.5 trillion and US$2.4 trillion in 2013.
The blueprint for the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) was signed on Sunday, the 22nd of November as the leaders of the 10 Southeast Asian countries inked the document at the ASEAN Annual Summit held in Malaysia.
It has been more than 13 years since the SEA leaders imagined a trade zone to match the US and Europe, keeping up with the pace of the mainland Asian giants of India and China.
The start of 2016 marked a milestone for the ASEAN region with leaders coming together to implement the ASEAN Economic Community, or AEC. The community aims to unite Southeast Asia, turning the region into a single trading bloc similar to the European Union in many ways, but without drawbacks such as a single currency and deeper political integration.
Last Friday, the world saw the announcement of a 10-year plan to step up tourism in the ASEAN region. The plan was signed by the tourism ministers of all 10 member nations of ASEAN at the annual tourism ministers meeting at Manila, Philippines. The aim is to help tourism capture more opportunities, and for it to play a bigger role in the regional economy.
As of 2013, tourism accounts for only 12.3% of ASEAN’s GDP and 3.7% of total employment in the region. By the end of 2025, the aim is to bring these numbers up to 15% and 7% respectively.