There will be no romantic overtures ushering in the Asean Economic Community at the end of 2015, say experts who believe the region’s leaders will be far too busy dealing with thorny trade issues to celebrate.
While economic integration is making progress, trade officials still must tackle “sensitive lists” of goods and services prepared by member countries. As well, participation in larger trade pacts could undermine Asean “centrality” as the guiding principle of regional integration.
All 10 Asean members are committed to negotiating the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which also includes China, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand. However, some members are also exploring the US-backed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which is a far broader agreement covering trade, services and investment.
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