ASEAN has transformed Southeastern Asian region into one of the fastest growing regions in the world

The ASEAN (The Association of Southeast Asian Nations) transforms into a premier regional organization that extensively influences on all aspects of the development, including economy, politics and security. The result of thirty nine years of experience and work is obvious: today, the ASEAN region has a combined population of eight hundred and ninety million and represents one of the fastest growing regions in the world.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was established on August, 8, 1967, in Bangkok by five original Member Countries, namely Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand. Brunei Darussalam joined on January, 8, 1984, Vietnam on July, 28, 1995, Laos and Myanmar on July, 23, 1997, and Cambodia on April, 30, 1999.

The objectives of ASEA are to facilitate the economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region and to promote peace and stability. The ASEA objectives define major spheres of activities, which are trade, industry, services, investment, communication and tourism as well as fundamental principles of cooperation that, among many points, include mutual respect for the independence, sovereignty and equality.

In 1995, the ASEAN Heads of States and Government re-affirmed that "Cooperative peace and shared prosperity shall be the fundamental goals of ASEAN." The four major areas for cooperation of all Member Countries are Political and Security Cooperation, Economic Cooperation, Functional Cooperation, Development Cooperation.

After thirty nine years of the ASEAN's existence, all cooperation areas have shown a considerable improvement, while the ASEAN has transformed itself into a kea regional organization in the development and "a trusted partner of the United Nations in the field of development".

A development cooperation program includes bringing a concord to all policies as to create a consistent regional legislative framework; an implementation of a steadfast regional management regime, especially in the public sectors; and supporting sectors to initiate significant institutional changes as to achieve the above harmonization efforts. In fact, the development cooperation is cross-sectoral in nature and serves as the basis for harmonization in all other areas whether economy, politics or security.

The Political and Security cooperation has brought about several vital political accords. Some of them are the ASEAN Declaration, Bangkok, August, 8, 1967; the Zone of Peace, Freedom and Neutrality Declaration, Kuala Lumpur, November, 27, 1971; and the Declaration of ASEAN Concord, Bali, February, 24, 1976. Through these and other accords, the ASEAN promotes the security, peace and conflict resolution, confidence-building and preventive diplomacy.

Much has been achieved in the area of economic cooperation, particularly in Asian trading. As the ASEAN started, the economic cooperation was limited to several economic activities. The ASEAN has developed a strong and reliable model for the regional economic development that includes the establishment of the Asian Free Trade Area (AFTA), the development of the region into a global base for the manufacturing and delivering high quality products and services, the enhancement of the industrial efficiency of the region, and the effective and efficient exploitation of the rich resources (minerals, forestry, energy, etc).

As a result of continuous and purposeful activities of the ASEAN, today the countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have a combined population of eight hundred and ninety million, which represent one of the fastest growing regions in the world. The ASEAN economy has grown to a combined gross national product (GNP) of about three hundred and twelve billion dollars and per capita of four hundred and ninety six dollars. The ASEAN's average economic growth rate was as high as five point five percent for the period 1980 to 1990, much higher than the world export growth of ten point eight percent. The foreign investment into the ASEAN grew as fast as forty percent.

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