The Asean Economic Community (AEC) will officially commence at 00:01 on January 1, 2016 after the heads of Asean member states today, Sunday November 22, 2015, signed the 2015 Kuala Lumpur Declaration on the Establishment of the Asean Community.
In a brief, but grand ceremony before world leaders and dignitaries Asean Chair and current Malaysia Prime Minister, Najib Tun Razak, said the Asean Community was about all citizens being Asean.
“It is recognising that something special binds us, and making our citizens feel that Asean courses through their veins. That is what will make our community a reality.
“That is what will reward the efforts and contributions of subsequent leaders and peoples of Asean, without whose help we would not have reached this historic milestone,” he said.
While much focus has been on the establishment of the Asean Economic Community, it is only one of the three core pillars on which the Asean Community is being formed.
The Asean Community’s three core pillars:
- the Asean Political Security Community (APSC)
- the Asean Economic Community (AEC)
- the Asean Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC)
In addition to signing the 2015 Kuala Lumpur Declaration on the Establishment of the Asean Community the Asean heads of State also adopted a declaration on the bloc’s growth to 2025, mapping out a plan for further regional integration and community building efforts.
Titled Kuala Lumpur Declaration on Asean 2025: Forging Ahead Together, the document envelopes the Asean Community Vision 2025, the Asean Political-Security Community Blueprint 2025, the Asean Economic Community Blueprint 2025 and the Asean Socio-Cultural Community Blueprint 2025.
Joining the dignitaries witnessing the gala ceremony were the leaders of Asean dialogue partners from Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea, who are currently negotiating the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement.
More Time For RCEP
If/ when successfully concluded the RCEP will create the world’s largest trading bloc comprising more than three billion people. It’s economic worth is put at more than US$ 17 trillion, or about 40 per cent of world trade.
By comparison the recently agreed, but as yet unsigned Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement will cover some 805.4 million people worth about 36 per cent of world trade.
Despite ten rounds of talks and four minister-level meetings since November 2012 and agreement has still not been finalised.
Prime Minister Razak said: “Considering the challenges faced and the value of constructive engagements more time is needed to conclude the negotiations.
“We agreed to allow negotiations to continue and request our negotiators to intensify efforts to conclude and achieve a mutually beneficial and high quality agreement in 2016.”
See here for the entire text of the 2015 Kuala Lumpur Declaration on the establishment of the Asean Community.
Video Uploaded to YouTube by RTVMalacanang
- Asean leaders sign KL Declaration (The Star Online)
- Declaration on the ASEAN Community establishment signed (Voice of Vietnam)
- ASEAN adopts declaration on community building to 2025 (Xinhua, English News)
- Asean, East Asia leaders seek new trade deal by 2016 (The Nation)