The ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) will officially commence 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. Twelve years in the making, the foremost goal of the AEC is to turn the region into a single market and production base by eliminating remaining trade barriers and harmonising standards.
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.
In practice, Asean countries have already done away with most tariff barriers, but now have to ensure that a truly single market and production base is created, with freer movement of goods and services.
Home to over 630 million consumers, according to its statistics the combined GDP of ASEAN economies is expected to grow from US$2.6 trillion to US$4.7 trillion by 2020. Seen as a bloc it will be the seventh largest economy today, and has the potential to be the fourth largest in the world as early as 2030.