ASEAN: East Asia on the track of development and prosperity.

ASEAN: East Asia on the track of development and prosperity.

After world war-II, nations around the world started reorganizing itself into different political, economic or military blocks. Europe was divided into western-led and Soviet Union led blocs, the western-led block was called European Union which has been the strongest economic and political block in the world since its formation, and Soviet-led alliance had got dissolved after Soviet Union disintegration. The success story of EU taught a lesson to the world to be united and achieve economic goal, as a result, African Union and MERCURS were founded in Africa and in South America respectively, and Arab nations were created in the Middle East and North Africa, yet they  were unsuccessful to bring all the member nations on the same page due to lack of unity and integrity among them. OIC was proved to be another failed political alliance of Islamic countries. SAARC is proved to be a futile block in south Asia. US-led military alliance NATO has the devastating impact in creating peace and stability across the world and its involvement in the war against terrorism is globally recognized. Likewise, the Association of South East Asian Nation (ASEAN) was created in the 1980’s to achieve the common economic and political goal by the member nations. It is an economic and political block of 10 nations of East Asia, and it covers the whole Indochina peninsula which starts from Myanmar in the west to Vietnam in the extreme east. It borders China in the north and Indonesia in the Indian Ocean and Philippines in the south pacific are the member nations.
ASEAN is the most successful economic block after EU, which is run by the ASEAN charter. It has been constructed robust economic, political and security cooperation over the years among the member nations. They have pledged peaceful settlement of intra-regional differences, discords and disparities, and the member nations are bounded by the common economic and political vision and objectives. ASEAN has established a robust mechanism of conflict prevention, conflict resolution and post-conflict peacebuilding, it has brought multicultural, ethnoreligious and every religious community on the same page, and now the region is more cohesive, peaceful, stable and resilient. ASEAN is now emerging as global player as it has established a balance between west and east wisely. It has become the hotspot for the foreign investors, and its economy is flourishing with major economic investment from USA and China, the two economic rivals. ASEAN is now a major global hub in manufacturing and trade, as well as it is enjoying the fastest growing consumer economy. It is the fourth largest exporting region in the world which is only trailing to the EU, North America and China/Hong Kong, and it accounts 7 percent of the global export: the member states have diversified their export, Vietnam is specialized in textile and apparel, while Singapore and Malaysia in electronic goods, Thailand has evolved its Auto-motive industries, Indonesia is the major economy in the region; it is the largest producer and exporter of palm oil and it is the largest exporter of coal and tin, and Philippines is leading the region as a leader in business-process-outsourcing. Onset of democracy and recent economic reform in Myanmar has opened its economy to the world, and it is the fastest growing economy in ASEAN, and is rich in natural resources, and has the largest reservoir of oil, gas and minerals. 
Despite distinct culture, history, and language, the member nations focus on the economic development and prosperity, and the region is growing with enormous 5 percent per year of its GDP. To maintain the current trajectory, ASEAN needs enormous investment for modernization of the infrastructure and for human development. It is the third largest geographical region after China and India by population. ASEAN is the most diverse region, and it’s not a monolithic market. GDP per capita of Singapore is 30 time of Laos and 50 times of Cambodia and Thailand. Indonesia is a member of G20 nations and it represents almost 40 percent of the region’s economic output.
Export-processing zones and SEZ in which China was leading the world, but now all eyes are shifted to the ASEAN. The Batam Free Trade Zone (Singapore–Indonesia), the Southern Regional Industrial Estate (Thailand), the Tanjung Emas Export Processing Zone (Indonesia), the Port Klang Free Zone (Malaysia), the Thilawa Special Economic Zone (Myanmar), and the Tan Thuan Export Processing Zone (Vietnam) are all expected to help the unprecedented pace of export growth.
The region sits on the important strategic location, it is lying across the Indian Ocean and Pacific through which trillions of dollars of trade takes place. Malacca Strait, one of the transit point is present in ASEAN marine water. It has the maritime border with top economies China, India, Japan, and the USA, so it's strategically important for India, China, Japan and the USA. They have established a conflict-free relationship with them which is a diplomatic win for ASEAN.
Economically ASEAN is meeting every expectation but on the political front, it looks irrelevant. It failed to address South China Sea disputes, the Human right violation in Philippines while drug abuser crackdown by Deutre administration, ISIS insurgent in Philippines and Rohingya crisis in Myanmar. Democracy is deepening the root in the region but the military establishments are always on the alert to suffocate and arrest it. The one-party rule in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos are the example of the major democratic deficit. The South China Sea dispute can turn into major military conflict anytime in the future, where China claims almost all of it. Almost five member nations are overlapping their claim on the Islands and resource-rich maritime water along with China. Global player involvement has further complicated the disputes.  USA, Europe, Australia, India, Japan and other global players have been calling for free navigation in the international water of the South China Sea. Rohingya crisis has created major disagreement among the member nations. It is considered as the capital human right violation by the international bodies. The immigration policy of Malaysia has heightened tension with Indonesia in the recent years.



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