Missed Opportunities for ASEAN if the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) fails to start up in 2015

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ASEAN potential as a major trade player

Although the pundits state that the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) and ASEAN Economic community (AEC) will be in place by 2015, there are signs on the ground in many of the member nations, this is far from the case. With the rapid growth and development of China and to a lesser extent India, the ASEAN region has been largely out of global focus in recent times. Although in terms of GDP, the ASEAN region cannot come even close to matching the other blocks like the China, the US, EU, India, and Japan; trade and consumption figures are very interesting. Exports from the ASEAN region to the rest of the world were USD 1.25 Trillion in 2011, not too far behind China at USD 1.89 Trillion, the EU USD 1.79 Trillion, and the US at USD 1.5 Trillion. ASEAN exports were higher than Japan at USD 800.8 Billion, and India 298.2 Billion. What is even more interesting is that the ASEAN region is also a very high consumption block indicated by its imports from the rest of the world at USD 1.06 Trillion, which was much higher than India at USD 451 Billion, and Japan at USD 794.7 Billion. ASEAN still trails China at USD 1.74 Trillion, with the EU at USD 2 Trillion and US at USD 2.314 Trillion. If one looks at mobile telephone usage as rough indicator of consumption, ASEAN usage (569 million) is much higher than the EU (466 million) and ASEAN has a higher per-capita usage than China and Japan. Finally the population growth rate within the ASEAN block is much higher than any of the other blocks.

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