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Flag of    Association of Southeast Asian Nations   Burmese:အရှေ့တောင်အာရှနိုင်ငံများအသင်းaashaetaungaarsh ninenganmyarr aahpwalFilipino:Samahán ng mga Bansâ sa Timog Silangang AsyaIndonesian:Perhimpunan Bangsa-bangsa Asia TenggaraKhmer:សមាគមប្រជាជាតិអាស៊ីអាគ្នេយ៍sameakm brachacheate asai akneLao:ສະມາຄົມປະຊາຊາດແຫ່ງອາຊີຕະເວັນອອກສຽງໃຕ້samakhom pasasad aehng asi tauaen ksiang taiMalay:Persatuan Negara-negara Asia TenggaraMandarin:亚细安组织东南亚国家联盟東南亞國家協會Yàxì'ān zǔzhīDōngnányà guójiā liánméngDōngnányà guójiā xiéhuìTamil:தென்கிழக்காசிய நாடுகளின் கூட்டமைப்புTeṉkiḻakkāciya nāṭukaḷiṉ kūṭṭamaippuThai:สมาคมประชาชาติแห่งเอเชียตะวันออกเฉียงใต้Samakhom prachachat haeng echia tawan ok chiang taiVietnamese:Hiệp hội các quốc gia Đông Nam Á
Emblem of    Association of Southeast Asian Nations   Burmese:အရှေ့တောင်အာရှနိုင်ငံများအသင်းaashaetaungaarsh ninenganmyarr aahpwalFilipino:Samahán ng mga Bansâ sa Timog Silangang AsyaIndonesian:Perhimpunan Bangsa-bangsa Asia TenggaraKhmer:សមាគមប្រជាជាតិអាស៊ីអាគ្នេយ៍sameakm brachacheate asai akneLao:ສະມາຄົມປະຊາຊາດແຫ່ງອາຊີຕະເວັນອອກສຽງໃຕ້samakhom pasasad aehng asi tauaen ksiang taiMalay:Persatuan Negara-negara Asia TenggaraMandarin:亚细安组织东南亚国家联盟東南亞國家協會Yàxì'ān zǔzhīDōngnányà guójiā liánméngDōngnányà guójiā xiéhuìTamil:தென்கிழக்காசிய நாடுகளின் கூட்டமைப்புTeṉkiḻakkāciya nāṭukaḷiṉ kūṭṭamaippuThai:สมาคมประชาชาติแห่งเอเชียตะวันออกเฉียงใต้Samakhom prachachat haeng echia tawan ok chiang taiVietnamese:Hiệp hội các quốc gia Đông Nam Á
Motto: "One Vision, One Identity, One Community"
Anthem: "The ASEAN Way"
Member states shown in dark green.
Member states shown in dark green.
Headquarters Jakarta, Indonesia
6°14′20″S 106°47′57″E / 6.23889°S 106.79917°E / -6.23889; 106.79917
Largest city Jakarta, Indonesia
Working language English
Official languages
of contracting states
• Secretary-General
Kao Kim Hourn
• Chairmanship of ASEAN
• Bangkok Declaration
8 August 1967 (56 years ago) (8 August 1967)
• Charter
16 December 2008 (15 years ago) (16 December 2008)
• Total
4,522,518 km2 (1,746,154 sq mi)
• 2023 estimate
• Density
144/km2 (373.0/sq mi)
GDP (PPP) 2024 estimate
• Total
Increase $12.007 trillion
• Per capita
Increase $17,528
GDP (nominal) 2024 estimate
• Total
Increase $4.248 trillion
• Per capita
Increase $6,201
HDI (2022) Increase 0.736
Time zone UTC+06:30 to +09:00

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, commonly as ASEAN, is a political and economic union of 10 states in Southeast Asia. Together, its member states represent a population of over 600 million over a land area of 4.5 million km2 (1.7 million sq mi). The bloc generated a purchasing power parity (PPP) gross domestic product (GDP) of around US$10.2 trillion in 2022, constituting approximately 6.5% of global GDP (PPP). ASEAN member states include some of the fastest growing economies in the world.

The primary objectives as stated by the association are "to accelerate economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region", and "to promote regional peace and stability through abiding respect for justice and the rule of law in the relationship among countries in the region and adherence to the principles of the United Nations Charter." The bloc has broadened its objectives beyond economic and social spheres, aiming to emulate the European Union by establishing a shared security regime.

ASEAN engages with other supranational entities in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond: it is a major partner of the UN, SCO, PA, GCC, MERCOSUR, CELAC, and ECO, It hosts diplomatic missions throughout the world, maintaining a global network of relationships, and is considered by many to be a global powerhouse, and even the central forum for cooperation in the region. Its success has become the driving force of some of the largest trade blocs in history, including APEC and RCEP.

ASEAN headquarters in Jakarta



The predecessor of ASEAN was the Association of Southeast Asia (ASA), formed on 31 July 1961 and consisting of Thailand, the Philippines, and the Federation of Malaya. ASEAN itself was created on 8 August 1967, when the foreign ministers of five countries—Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand—signed the ASEAN Declaration. According to the Declaration, ASEAN aims to accelerate economic, social, and cultural development in the region, as well as promoting regional peace, to collaborate on matters of shared interest, and to promote Southeast Asian studies and maintain close cooperation with existing international organisations.

The creation of ASEAN was initially motivated by the desire to contain communism, which had taken a foothold in mainland Asia after World War II, with the formation of communist governments in North Korea, China, and Vietnam, accompanied by the so-called communist "emergency" in British Malaya, and unrest in the recently decolonized Philippines.

These events also encouraged the earlier formation of the South East Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO), led by the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia, with several Southeast Asian partners in 1954 as an extension of "containment" policy, seeking to create an Eastern version of NATO. However, the local member states of ASEAN group achieved greater cohesion in the mid-1970s following a change in the balance of power after the fall of Saigon and the end of the Vietnam War in April 1975 and the decline of SEATO.

ASEAN's first summit meeting, held in Bali, Indonesia, in 1976, resulted in an agreement on several industrial projects and the signing of a Treaty of Amity and Cooperation, and a Declaration of Concord. The end of the Cold War allowed ASEAN countries to exercise greater political independence in the region, and in the 1990s, ASEAN emerged as a leading voice on regional trade and security issues.

On 15 December 1995, the Southeast Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty was signed to turn Southeast Asia into a nuclear-weapon-free zone. The treaty took effect on 28 March 1997 after all but one of the member states had ratified it. It became fully effective on 21 June 2001 after the Philippines ratified it, effectively banning all nuclear weapons in the region.


On 7 January 1984, Brunei became ASEAN's sixth member and on 28 July 1995, following the end of the Cold War, Vietnam joined as the seventh member. Laos and Myanmar (formerly Burma) joined two years later on 23 July 1997. Cambodia was to join at the same time as Laos and Myanmar, but a Cambodian coup in 1997 and other internal instability delayed its entry. It then joined on 30 April 1999 following the stabilization of its government.

In 2006, ASEAN was given observer status at the United Nations General Assembly. In response, the organization awarded the status of "dialogue partner" to the UN.


Besides their close geographic proximity, political scholars consider Southeast Asian nations a cultural crossroads between East Asia and South Asia, located at critical junctions of the South China Sea as well as the Indian Ocean, and as a result received much influence from Islamic and Persian influences prior to the European colonial ages.

Since around 100 BCE, the Southeast Asian archipelago occupied a central position at the crossroads of the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea trading routes, which stimulated the economy and the influx of ideas. This included the introduction of abugida scripts to Southeast Asia as well as the Chinese script to Vietnam. Besides various indigenous scripts, various abugida Brahmic scripts were widespread in both continental and insular Southeast Asia. Historically, scripts such as Pallava, Kawi (from ancient Tamil script) and Rencong or Surat Ulu were used to write Old Malay, until they were replaced by Jawi during Islamic missionary missions in the Malay Archipelago.

European colonialism influenced most ASEAN countries, including French Indochina (present-day Vietnam, Laos & Cambodia), British Burma, Malaya and Borneo (present-day Myanmar, Malaysia & Singapore, and Brunei), Dutch East Indies (present day Indonesia), Spanish East Indies (present-day Philippines and various other colonies), and Portuguese Timor (present-day Timor-Leste), with only Thailand (then Siam) not formed from a prior European colony. Siam served as a convenient buffer state, sandwiched between British Burma and French Indochina, but its kings had to contend with unequal treaties as well as British and French political interference and territorial losses after the Franco-Siamese conflict of 1893 and the Anglo-Siamese Treaty of 1909. Under European colonization, Southeast Asian nations were introduced to European religions and technologies, as well as the Latin alphabet.

The Japanese Empire, in the vein of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere concept, sought to unite and create a pan-Asian identity against Western colonial occupation, but Japan's alliance with the Axis powers in World War II soured relations between many colonies of Europe and the United States. Atomic bombings of Japan eventuated in decolonization movements throughout Southeast Asia, resulting in the independent ASEAN states of today.

The ASEAN Charter

On 15 December 2008, the member states met in Jakarta to launch the charter signed in November 2007, to move closer to "an EU-style community". The charter formally established ASEAN as a legal entity, aiming to create a single trade bloc for a region encompassing 500 million people. Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono stated: "This is a momentous development when ASEAN is consolidating, integrating, and transforming itself into a community. It is achieved while ASEAN seeks a more vigorous role in Asian and global affairs at a time when the international system is experiencing a seismic shift". Referring to climate change and economic upheaval, he concluded: "Southeast Asia is no longer the bitterly divided, war-torn region it was in the 1960s and 1970s".

The financial crisis of 2007–2008 was seen as a threat to the charter's goals, and also set forth the idea of a proposed human rights body to be discussed at a future summit in February 2009. This proposition caused controversy, as the body would not have the power to impose sanctions or punish countries which violated citizens' rights and would, therefore, be limited in effectiveness. The body was established later in 2009 as the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR).

In November 2012, the commission adopted the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration. However, their human rights declaration has been critiqued widely by the international community, with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights stating that the declaration was worded in problematic ways that do not easily align with international norms. Likewise, the Human Rights Watch in the United States noted several important fundamental rights were omitted or not clearly established.

The ASEAN chair is a rotating position, currently held by Laos. Recent ASEAN chairs are as follows:

ASEAN Chairs
Year Country
2008  Thailand
2010  Vietnam
2011  Indonesia
2012  Cambodia
2013  Brunei
2014  Myanmar
2015  Malaysia
2016  Laos
2017  Philippines
2018  Singapore
2019  Thailand
2020  Vietnam
2021  Brunei
2022  Cambodia
2023  Indonesia
2024  Laos

Public health

In response to pandemics, ASEAN has coordinated with ASEAN+3 and other actors to create a regional public health response.

SARS outbreak

During the SARS outbreak, ASEAN and ASEAN+3 worked together to devise a response to the outbreak. Immediate and short-to-medium term measures were devised. The parties agreed to enhance sharing of best practices against the disease while also agreeing to bolster collaboration between their respective health authorities and harmonize travel procedures to ensure that proper health screening would occur. In addition, China offered to contribute $1.2 million to the ASEAN SARS fund, made both to show that it was willing to cooperate with the rest of the region and make amends for its withholding of information during the initial stages of the outbreak.

H1N1 pandemic

ASEAN held a special meeting between ASEAN and ASEAN+3 health ministers on 8 May 2009, on responding to the H1N1 pandemic. At this meeting, it was agreed that hotlines would be established between public health authorities, joint response teams would be formed, and ongoing research efforts would be bolstered.

Myanmar crisis

Since 2017, political, military and ethnic affairs in Myanmar have posed unusual challenges for ASEAN, creating precedent-breaking situations and threatening the traditions and unity of the group, and its global standing—with ASEAN responses indicating possible fundamental change in the nature of the organization.

Rohingya genocide

The Rohingya genocide erupting in Myanmar in August 2017—killing thousands of Rohingya people in Myanmar, driving most into neighboring Bangladesh, and continuing for months—created a global outcry demanding ASEAN take action against the civilian-military coalition government of Myanmar, which had long discriminated against the Rohingya, and had launched the 2017 attacks upon them.

2021 Myanmar coup

On 1 February 2021, the day before a newly elected slate of civilian leaders was to take office in Myanmar, a military junta overthrew Myanmar's civilian government in a coup d'etat, declaring a national state of emergency, imposing martial law, arresting elected civilian leaders, violently clamping down on dissent, and replacing civilian government with the military's appointees.

Widespread protests and resistance erupted, and elements of the civilian leadership formed an underground "National Unity Government" (NUG). Global opposition to the coup emerged, and global pressure was brought on ASEAN to take action.

Member states

Map of ASEAN member states
Map showing the member states of ASEAN.

List of member states

State Accession
Brunei Brunei 7 January 1984
Cambodia Cambodia 30 April 1999
Indonesia Indonesia 8 August 1967
Laos Laos 23 July 1997
Malaysia Malaysia 8 August 1967
Myanmar Myanmar 23 July 1997
Philippines Philippines 8 August 1967
Singapore Singapore 8 August 1967
Thailand Thailand 8 August 1967
Vietnam Vietnam 28 July 1995

Observer states

There are currently two states seeking accession to ASEAN: East Timor and Papua New Guinea.

  • Accession of East Timor to ASEAN (since 2002, observer status since 2022)
  • Accession of Papua New Guinea to ASEAN (observer status since 1976)


As of 1 July  2019 (2019 -07-01), the population of the ASEAN was about 655 million people (8.5% of the world population). In 2019, 55.2 million children were age 0-4 and 46.3 million were older than 65 in the ASEAN. This corresponds to 8.4% and 7.1% of the total ASEAN population. The region's population growth is 1.1% per year with Thailand being the smallest at 0.2% per year, and Cambodia being the largest at 1.9% per year. ASEAN's sex ratio is 99.6, with 326.4 million males and 327.8 million females.


An urban area, built-up area or urban agglomeration is a human settlement with a high population density and an infrastructure of built environment. Urban areas originate through urbanization, and researchers categorize them as cities, towns, conurbations or suburbs. The 20 largest metropolitan areas within ASEAN are as follows.

Metropolitan area Core city Population Area (km2) Country Census year
Greater Jakarta Jakarta 31,673,824 7,076.3  Indonesia 2020
Ho Chi Minh City Metropolitan Area Ho Chi Minh City 21,281,639 30,595.0  Vietnam 2019
Hanoi Capital Region Hanoi 19,980,000 24,314.7  Vietnam 2019
Metro Manila Manila 13,484,462 619.6  Philippines 2020
Bangkok Metropolitan Region Bangkok 10,696,258 7,700.0  Thailand 2020
Greater Surabaya Surabaya 9,924,509 6,310.0  Indonesia 2020
Greater Bandung Bandung 8,790,308 3,500.3  Indonesia 2020
Klang Valley Kuala Lumpur 8,455,029 8,347.0  Malaysia 2020
Yangon Region Yangon 7,360,703 10,276.7  Myanmar 2014
Greater Semarang Semarang 6,009,982 4,795.9  Indonesia 2020
Singapore Singapore 5,685,807 734.3  Singapore 2020
Da Nang Metropolitan Area Da Nang 5,622,814 26,640.3  Vietnam 2019
Greater Medan Medan 4,756,863 3,189.2  Indonesia 2020
Metro Davao Davao 3,339,284 6,492.8  Philippines 2020
Metro Cebu Cebu 3,165,799 1,062.8  Philippines 2020
George Town Conurbation George Town 2,844,214 3,758.8  Malaysia 2020
Greater Makassar Makassar 2,725,951 2,666.6  Indonesia 2020
Greater Palembang Palembang 2,634,501 9,886.6  Indonesia 2020
Phnom Penh Metro Area Phnom Penh 2,506,123 679.0  Cambodia 2019
Greater Yogyakarta Yogyakarta 2,485,163 1,118.2  Indonesia 2020


The "ASEAN Way" refers to a methodology or approach to solving issues that respect Southeast Asia's cultural norms. Masilamani and Peterson summarise it as "a working process or style that is informal and personal. Policymakers constantly utilise compromise, consensus, and consultation in the informal decision-making process... it above all prioritises a consensus-based, non-conflictual way of addressing problems. Quiet diplomacy allows ASEAN leaders to communicate without bringing the discussions into the public view. Members avoid the embarrassment that may lead to further conflict." It has been said that the merits of the ASEAN Way might "be usefully applied to global conflict management". However, critics have argued that such an approach can be only applied to Asian countries, to specific cultural norms and understandings notably, due to a difference in mindset and level of tension.

Critics object, claiming that the ASEAN Way's emphasis on consultation, consensus, and non-interference forces the organization to adopt only those policies which satisfy the lowest common denominator. Decision-making by consensus requires members to see eye-to-eye before ASEAN can move forward on an issue. Members may not have a common conception of the meaning of the ASEAN Way. Myanmar, Cambodia, and Laos emphasize non-interference while older member countries focus on co-operation and co-ordination. These differences hinder efforts to find common solutions to particular issues, but also make it difficult to determine when collective action is appropriate in a given situation.


Beginning in 1997, heads of each member state adopted the ASEAN Vision 2020 during the group's 30th anniversary meeting held in Kuala Lumpur. As a means for the realization of a single ASEAN community, this vision provides provisions on peace and stability, a nuclear-free region, closer economic integration, human development, sustainable development, cultural heritage, being a drug-free region, environment among others. The vision also aimed to "see an outward-looking ASEAN playing a pivotal role in the international fora, and advancing ASEAN's common interests".

ASEAN Vision 2020 was formalized and made comprehensive through the Bali Concord II in 2003. Three major pillars of a single ASEAN community were established: Political-Security Community (APSC), Economic Community (AEC) and Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC). To fully embody the three pillars as part of the 2015 integration, blueprints for APSC and ASCC were subsequently adopted in 2009 in Cha-am, Thailand. The ASEAN Community, initially planned to commence by 2020, was accelerated to begin by 31 December 2015. It was decided during the 12th ASEAN Summit in Cebu in 2007.

AEC Blueprint

KL Declaration Signing 11.22.15
ASEAN leaders sign the declaration of the ASEAN Economic Community during the 27th ASEAN Summit in Kuala Lumpur, 2015

The AEC aims to "implement economic integration initiatives" to create a single market for member states. The blueprint that serves as a comprehensive guide for the establishment of the community was adopted on 20 November 2007 at the 13th ASEAN Summit in Singapore. Its characteristics include a single market and production base, a highly competitive economic region, a region of fair economic development, and a region fully integrated into the global economy. The areas of cooperation include human resources development, recognition of professional qualifications, closer consultation economic policies, enhanced infrastructure and communications connectivity, integrating industries for regional sourcing, and strengthening private sector involvement. Through the free movement of skilled labor, goods, services and investment, ASEAN would rise globally as one market, thus increasing its competitiveness and opportunities for development.

APSC Blueprint

During the 14th ASEAN Summit, the group adopted the APSC Blueprint. This document is aimed at creating a robust political-security environment within ASEAN, with programs and activities outlined to establish the APSC by 2016. It is based on the ASEAN Charter, the ASEAN Security Community Plan of Action, and the Vientiane Action Program. The APSC aims to create a sense of responsibility toward comprehensive security and a dynamic, outward-looking region in an increasingly integrated and interdependent world.

The ASEAN Defense Industry Collaboration (ADIC) was proposed at the 4th ASEAN Defense Ministers' Meeting (ADMM) on 11 May 2010 in Hanoi. It has the purpose, among others, to reduce defense imports from non-ASEAN countries by half and to further develop the defense industry in the region. It was formally adopted on the next ADMM on 19 May 2011, in Jakarta, Indonesia. The main focus is to industrially and technologically boost the security capability of ASEAN, consistent with the principles of flexibility and non-binding and voluntary participation among the member states. The concept revolves around education and capability-building programs to develop the skills and capabilities of the workforce, production of capital for defense products, and the provision of numerous services to address the security needs of each member state. It also aims to develop an intra-ASEAN defense trade. ADIC aims to establish a strong defense industry relying on the local capabilities of each member state and limit annual procurement from external original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). Countries like the US, Germany, Russia, France, Italy, UK, China, South Korea, Israel, and the Netherlands are among the major suppliers to ASEAN. ASEAN defense budget rose by 147% from 2004 to 2013 and is expected to rise further in the future. Factors affecting the increase include economic growth, ageing equipment, and the plan to strengthen the establishment of the defense industry. ASEANAPOL is also established to enhance cooperation on law enforcement and crime control among police forces of member states.

ASCC Blueprint

The ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC) was also adopted during the 14th ASEAN Summit. It envisions an "ASEAN Community that is people-centered and socially responsible with a view to achieving enduring solidarity and unity among the countries and peoples of ASEAN by forging a common identity and building a caring and sharing society which is inclusive and harmonious where the well-being, livelihood, and welfare of the peoples are enhanced". Among its focus areas include human development, social welfare and protection, social justice and rights, environmental sustainability, building the ASEAN identity, and narrowing the development gap.

To track the progress of the AEC, a compliance tool called the AEC Scorecard was developed based on the EU Internal Market Scorecard. It is the only one in effect and is expected to serve as an unbiased assessment tool to measure the extent of integration and the economic health of the region. It is expected to provide relevant information about regional priorities, and thus foster productive, inclusive, and sustainable growth. It makes it possible to monitor the implementation of ASEAN agreements, and the achievement of milestones indicated in the AEC Strategic Schedule. The scorecard outlines specific actions that must be undertaken collectively and individually to establish AEC by 2015. To date, two official scorecards have been published, one in 2010, and the other in 2012. However, the scorecard is purely quantitative, as it only examines whether a member state has performed the AEC task or not. The more "yes" answers, the higher the score.

APAEC blueprint

Part of the work towards the ASEAN Economic Community is the integration of the energy systems of the ASEAN member states. The blueprint for this integration is provided by the ASEAN Plan of Action for Energy Cooperation (APAEC). APAEC is managed by the ASEAN Center for Energy.

2020 ASEAN Banking Integration Framework

As trade is liberalized with the integration in 2015, the need arises for ASEAN banking institutions to accommodate and expand their services to an intra-ASEAN market. Experts, however, have already forecast a shaky economic transition, especially for smaller players in the banking and financial services industry. Two separate reports by Standard & Poor's (S&P) outline the challenges that ASEAN financial institutions face as they prepare for the 2020 banking integration. The reports point out that overcrowded banking sector in the Philippines is expected to feel the most pressure as the integration welcomes tighter competition with bigger and more established foreign banks. As a result, there needs to be a regional expansion by countries with a small banking sector to lessen the impact of the post-integration environment. In a follow-up report, S&P recently cited the Philippines for "shoring up its network bases and building up capital ahead of the banking integration – playing defense and strengthening their domestic networks".

Financial integration roadmap

The roadmap for financial integration is the latest regional initiative that aims to strengthen local self-help and support mechanisms. The roadmap's implementation would contribute to the realization of the AEC. Adoption of a common currency, when conditions are ripe, could be the final stage of the AEC. The roadmap identifies approaches and milestones in capital market development, capital account and financial services liberalization, and ASEAN currency cooperation. Capital market development entails promoting institutional capacity as well as the facilitation of greater cross-border collaboration, linkages, and harmonization between capital markets. Orderly capital account liberalization would be promoted with adequate safeguards against volatility and systemic risks. To expedite the process of financial services liberalization, ASEAN has agreed on a positive list modality and adopted milestones to facilitate negotiations. Currency cooperation would involve the exploration of possible currency arrangements, including an ASEAN currency payment system for trade in local goods to reduce the demand for US dollars and to help promote stability of regional currencies, such as by settling intra-ASEAN trade using regional currencies.

Food security

Member states recognize the importance of strengthening food security to maintain stability and prosperity in the region. As ASEAN moves towards AEC and beyond, food security would be an integral part of the community-building agenda. Strengthened food security is even more relevant in light of potentially severe risks from climate change with agriculture and fisheries being the most affected industries.

Part of the aim of ASEAN integration is to achieve food security collectively via trade in rice and maize. Trade facilitation measures and the harmonization/equivalency of food regulation and control standards would reduce the cost of trade in food products. While specialization and revealed comparative and competitive indices point to complementarities between trade patterns among the member states, intra-ASEAN trade in agriculture is quite small, something that integration could address. The MARKET project would provide flexible and demand-driven support to the ASEAN Secretariat while bringing more private-sector and civil-society input into regional agriculture policy dialogue. By building an environment that reduces barriers to trade, ASEAN trade would increase, thereby decreasing the risk of food price crisis.


GDP (USD Million) by country
Country Population
in million

GDP Nominal
millions of
GDP Nominal
per capita
USD (2024)
millions of
per capita
Int$ (2024)
 Indonesia 279.965 1,475,960 5,271 4,720,542 16,861
 Thailand 70.266 548,890 7,812 1,644,322 23,401
 Singapore 5.938 525,228 88,446 794,179 133,738
 Philippines 114.161 471,516 4,130 1,391,800 12,192
 Vietnam 100.770 468,814 4,623 1,558,898 15,470
 Malaysia 33.460 445,519 13,315 1,305,942 39,030
 Myanmar 54.506 68,006 1,248 283,572 5,203
 Cambodia 17.182 45,150 2,628 142,392 8,287
 Brunei 0.442 15,510 35,111 34,249 75,534
 Laos 7.686 15,190 1,976 78,713 10,242
 ASEAN 684.376 4,079,723 5,961 11,954,627 17,468

The group sought economic integration by creating the AEC by the end of 2015 that established a single market. The average economic growth of member states from 1989 to 2009 was between 3.8% and 7%. This was greater than the average growth of APEC, which was 2.8%. The ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA), established on 28 January 1992, includes a Common Effective Preferential Tariff (CEPT) to promote the free flow of goods between member states. ASEAN had only six members when it was signed. The new member states (Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, and Cambodia) have not fully met AFTA's obligations, but are officially considered part of the agreement as they were required to sign it upon entry into ASEAN, and were given longer time frames to meet AFTA's tariff reduction obligations. The next steps are to create a single market and production base, a competitive economic region, a region of equitable economic development, and a region that is fully integrated into the global economy. Since 2007, ASEAN countries have gradually lowered their import duties to member states, with a target of zero import duties by 2016.

ASEAN countries have many economic zones (industrial parks, eco-industrial parks, special economic zones, technology parks, and innovation districts) (see reference for comprehensive list from 2015). In 2018, eight of the ASEAN members are among the world's outperforming economies, with positive long-term prospect for the region. ASEAN's Secretariat projects that the regional body will grow to become the world's fourth largest economy by 2030.

The ASEAN Centre for Energy publishes the ASEAN Energy Outlook every five years, analysing and promoting the integration of national energy systems across the region. The sixth edition was published in 2020.

Internal market

ASEAN planned to establish a single market based upon the four freedoms by the end of 2015, with the goal of ensuring free flow of goods, services, skilled labour, and capital. The ASEAN Economic Community was formed in 2015, but the group deferred about 20% of the harmonization provisions needed to create a common market and set a new deadline of 2025.

Until the end of 2010, intra-ASEAN trade was still low as trade involved mainly exports to countries outside the region, with the exception of Laos and Myanmar, whose foreign trade was ASEAN-oriented. In 2009, realised foreign direct investment (FDI) was US$37.9 billion and increased two-fold in 2010 to US$75.8 billion. 22% of FDI came from the European Union, followed by ASEAN countries (16%), and by Japan and the United States.

The ASEAN Framework Agreement on Trade in Services (AFAS) was adopted at the ASEAN Summit in Bangkok in December 1995. Under the agreement, member states enter into successive rounds of negotiations to liberalise trade in services with the aim of submitting increasingly higher levels of commitment. ASEAN has concluded seven packages of commitments under AFAS.

Mutual Recognition Agreements (MRAs) have been agreed upon by ASEAN for eight professions: physicians, dentists, nurses, architects, engineers, accountants, surveyors, and tourism professionals. Individuals in these professions will be free to work in any ASEAN states effective 31 December 2015.

In addition, six member states (Malaysia, Vietnam (2 exchanges), Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, and Singapore) have collaborated on integrating their stock exchanges, which includes 70% of its transaction values with the goal to compete with international exchanges.

Single market will also include the ASEAN Single Aviation Market (ASEAN-SAM), the region's aviation policy geared towards the development of a unified and single aviation market in Southeast Asia. It was proposed by the ASEAN Air Transport Working Group, supported by the ASEAN Senior Transport Officials Meeting, and endorsed by the ASEAN Transport Ministers. It is expected to liberalise air travel between member states allowing ASEAN airlines to benefit directly from the growth in air travel, and also free up tourism, trade, investment, and service flows. Since 1 December 2008, restrictions on the third and fourth freedoms of the air between capital cities of member states for air passenger services have been removed, while from 1 January 2009, full liberalisation of air freight services in the region took effect. On 1 January 2011, full liberalisation on fifth freedom traffic rights between all capital cities took effect. This policy supersedes existing unilateral, bilateral, and multilateral air services agreements among member states which are inconsistent with its provisions.

Monetary union

The concept of an Asian Currency Unit (ACU) started in the middle of the 1990s, prior to the 1997 Asian financial crisis. It is a proposed basket of Asian currencies, similar to the European Currency Unit, which was the precursor of the Euro. The Asian Development Bank is responsible for exploring the feasibility and construction of the basket. Since the ACU is being considered to be a precursor to a common currency, it has a dynamic outlook of the region. The overall goal of a common currency is to contribute to the financial stability of a regional economy, including price stability. It means lower cost of cross-border business through the elimination of currency risk. Greater flows of intra-trade would put pressure on prices, resulting in cheaper goods and services. Individuals benefit not only from the lowering of prices, they save by not having to change money when travelling, by being able to compare prices more readily, and by the reduced cost of transferring money across borders.

However, there are conditions for a common currency: the intensity of intra-regional trade and the convergence of macroeconomic conditions. Substantial intra-ASEAN trade (which is growing, partly as a result of the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) and the ASEAN Economic Community.) and economic integration is an incentive for a monetary union. Member states currently trade more with other countries (80%) than among themselves (20%). Therefore, their economies are more concerned about currency stability against major international currencies, like the US dollar. On macroeconomic conditions, member states have different levels of economic development, capacity, and priorities that translate into different levels of interest and readiness. Monetary integration, however, implies less control over national monetary and fiscal policy to stimulate the economy. Therefore, greater convergence in macroeconomic conditions is being enacted to improve conditions and confidence in a common currency. Other concerns include weaknesses in the financial sectors, inadequacy of regional-level resource pooling mechanisms and institutions required to form and manage a currency union, and lack of political preconditions for monetary co-operation and a common currency.

Free trade

In 1992, the Common Effective Preferential Tariff (CEPT) scheme was adopted as a schedule for phasing out tariffs to increase the "region's competitive advantage as a production base geared for the world market". This law would act as the framework for the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA), which is an agreement by member states concerning local manufacturing in ASEAN. It was signed on 28 January 1992 in Singapore.

Free trade initiatives in ASEAN are spearheaded by the implementation of the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement (ATIGA) and the Agreement on Customs. These agreements are supported by several sector bodies to plan and to execute free trade measures, guided by the provisions and the requirements of ATIGA and the Agreement on Customs. They form a backbone for achieving targets of the AEC Blueprint and establishing the ASEAN Economic Community by the end of 2015.

On 26 August 2007, ASEAN stated its aim of completing free trade agreements (FTA) with China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia, and New Zealand by 2013, which is in line with the start of the ASEAN Economic Community by 2015. In November 2007, ASEAN states signed the ASEAN Charter, a constitution governing relations among member states and establishing the group itself as an international legal entity. During the same year, the Cebu Declaration on East Asian Energy Security was signed by ASEAN and the other members of the EAS (Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea), which pursues energy security by finding energy alternatives to fossil fuels.

On 27 February 2009, an FTA with Australia and New Zealand was signed. It is believed that this FTA would boost combined GDP across the 12 countries by more than US$48 billion over the period between 2000 and 2020. The agreement with China created the ASEAN–China Free Trade Area (ACFTA), which went into full effect on 1 January 2010. In addition, ASEAN was noted to be negotiating an FTA with the European Union. Bilateral trade with India crossed the US$70 billion target in 2012 (target was to reach the level by 2015). Taiwan has also expressed interest in an agreement with ASEAN but needs to overcome diplomatic objections from China.

ASEAN, together with its six major trading partners (Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea), began the first round of negotiations on 26–28 February 2013, in Bali, Indonesia on the establishment of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which is an extension of ASEAN Plus Three and Six that covers 45% of the world's population and about a third of the world's total GDP.

In 2019, Reuters highlighted a mechanism used by traders to avoid the 70% tariff on ethanol imported into China from the United States, involving importing the fuel into Malaysia, mixing it with at least 40% ASEAN-produced fuel, and re-exporting it to China tariff-free under ACFTA rules.

Electricity trade

Cross-border electricity trade in ASEAN has been limited, despite efforts since 1997 to establish an ASEAN Power Grid and associated trade. Electricity trade accounts for only about 5% of the generation, whereas trades in coal and gas are 86% and 53% respectively.


With the institutionalisation of visa-free travel between ASEAN member states, intra-ASEAN travel has escalated. In 2010, 47% or 34 million out of 73 million tourists in ASEAN member-states were from other ASEAN countries. Cooperation in tourism was formalised in 1976, following the formation of the Sub-Committee on Tourism (SCOT) under the ASEAN Committee on Trade and Tourism. The 1st ASEAN Tourism Forum was held on 18–26 October 1981 in Kuala Lumpur. In 1986, ASEAN Promotional Chapters for Tourism (APCT) were established in Hong Kong, West Germany, the United Kingdom, Australia/New Zealand, Japan, and North America.

Tourism has been one of the key growth sectors in ASEAN and has proven resilient amid global economic challenges. The wide array of tourist attractions across the region drew 109 million tourists to ASEAN in 2015, up by 34% compared to 81 million tourists in 2011. As of 2012, tourism was estimated to account for 4.6% of ASEAN GDP—10.9% when taking into account all indirect contributions. It directly employed 9.3 million people, or 3.2% of total employment, and indirectly supported some 25 million jobs. In addition, the sector accounted for an estimated 8% of total capital investment in the region. In January 2012, ASEAN tourism ministers called for the development of a marketing strategy. The strategy represents the consensus of ASEAN National Tourism Organisations (NTOs) on marketing directions for ASEAN moving forward to 2015. In the 2013 Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index (TTCI) report, Singapore placed 1st, Malaysia placed 8th, Thailand placed 9th, Indonesia placed 12th, Brunei placed 13th, Vietnam placed 16th, Philippines placed 17th, and Cambodia placed 20th as the top destinations of travellers in the Asia Pacific region.

1981 The ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF) was established. It is a regional meeting of NGOs, Ministers, sellers, buyers and journalists to promote the ASEAN countries as a single one tourist destination. The annual event 2019 in Ha Long marks the 38th anniversary and involves all the tourism industry sectors of the 10 member states of ASEAN: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. It was organized by TTG Events from Singapore.

Cooperation funds

The establishment of the China-ASEAN Investment Cooperation Fund was announced in 2009 by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao began operations in 2010. The fund, which is sponsored by the Export-Import Bank of China, among other institutional investors, became the first Southeast Asia-focused private equity fund approved by China's State Council and the National Development and Reform Commission. The Export-Import Bank of China is the "anchor sponsor" with a "seed investment" of US$300 million. Three other Chinese institutions invested a combined US$500 million. The International Finance Corporation of the World Bank invested US$100 million.

In November 2011, the China-ASEAN Maritime Cooperation fund was established. China underwrote the fund, which is valued at RMB 3 billion.

Foreign relations

Asean flag flying at Royal Thai Embassy Helsinki
Royal Thai Embassy, Helsinki, flying its own national flag as well as ASEAN's flag
ASEAN 50th Anniversary
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte poses for a photo with the ASEAN foreign ministers during the 50th anniversary of the group's foundation on 8 August 2017.

ASEAN maintains a global network of alliances, dialogue partners and diplomatic missions, and is involved in numerous international affairs. The organisation maintains good relationships on an international scale, particularly towards Asia-Pacific nations, and upholds itself as a neutral party in politics. It holds ASEAN Summits, where heads of government of each member states meet to discuss and resolve regional issues, as well as to conduct other meetings with countries outside the bloc to promote external relations and deal with international affairs. The first summit was held in Bali in 1976. The third summit was in Manila in 1987, and during this meeting, it was decided that the leaders would meet every five years. The fourth meeting was held in Singapore in 1992 where the leaders decided to meet more frequently, every three years. In 2001, it was decided that the organisation will meet annually to address urgent issues affecting the region. In December 2008, the ASEAN Charter came into force and with it, the ASEAN Summit will be held twice a year. The formal summit meets for three days, and usually includes internal organisation meeting, a conference with foreign ministers of the ASEAN Regional Forum, an ASEAN Plus Three meeting and ASEAN-CER, a meeting of member states with Australia and New Zealand.

ASEAN is a major partner of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, developing cooperation model with the organisation in the field of security, economy, finance, tourism, culture, environmental protection, development and sustainability. Additionally, the grouping has been closely aligned with China, cooperating across numerous areas, including economy, security, education, culture, technology, agriculture, human resource, society, development, investment, energy, transport, public health, tourism, media, environment, and sustainability. It is also the linchpin in the foreign policy of Australia and New Zealand, with the three sides being integrated into an essential alliance.

ASEAN also participates in the East Asia Summit (EAS), a pan-Asian forum held annually by the leaders of eighteen countries in the East Asian region, with ASEAN in a leadership position. Initially, membership included all member states of ASEAN plus China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia, and New Zealand, but was expanded to include the United States and Russia at the Sixth EAS in 2011. The first summit was held in Kuala Lumpur on 14 December 2005, and subsequent meetings have been held after the annual ASEAN Leaders' Meeting. The summit has discussed issues including trade, energy, and security and the summit has a role in regional community building.

Other meetings include the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting that focus mostly on specific topics, such as defence or the environment, and are attended by ministers. The ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), which met for the first time in 1994, fosters dialogue and consultation, and to promote confidence-building and preventive diplomacy in the region. As of July 2007, it consists of twenty-seven participants that include all ASEAN member states, Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, China, the EU, India, Japan, North and South Korea, Mongolia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Russia, East Timor, the United States, and Sri Lanka. Taiwan has been excluded since the establishment of the ARF, and issues regarding the Taiwan Strait are neither discussed at ARF meetings nor stated in the ARF Chairman's Statements.

ASEAN also holds meetings with Europe during the Asia–Europe Meeting (ASEM), an informal dialogue process initiated in 1996 with the intention of strengthening co-operation between the countries of Europe and Asia, especially members of the European Union and ASEAN in particular. ASEAN, represented by its secretariat, is one of the forty-five ASEM partners. It also appoints a representative to sit on the governing board of Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF), a socio-cultural organisation associated with the meeting. Annual bilateral meetings between ASEAN and India, Russia and the United States are also held.

Prior to 2012, ASEAN foreign ministerial statements were not typically contentious. Particularly as international disagreements over the South China Sea increased, the wording of ASEAN foreign ministerial statements became more politically contended.

Following the 2022 visit by United States Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan, ASEAN and individual member states reiterated their support of the One China policy.

On 12 November 2022, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba urged ASEAN countries to abandon their neutrality and condemn Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Territorial disputes

South China Sea

With perceptions that there have been multiple incursions into the South China Sea by the PRC (China) and ROC (Taiwan), with land, islands and resources all having had previous overlapping claims between Vietnam, Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia, and various other countries, the PRC and ROC's claim into the region is seen as intrusive by many Southeast Asian countries as of 2022, potentially a reflection of the threat of Chinese expansionism into the region. This follows the 11 dash line that was produced by the Republic of China (ROC, Taiwan), followed by the 9-dash line by the People's Republic of China (PRC). ASEAN sought for a more unified response against what it perceived to be Chinese penetration and hegemony into the region. There have been attempts to counterbalance this sway by attempting to align with other military alliances such as the nations in the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (QUAD).

Both the PRC (China) and the ROC (Taiwan) have employed several strategies to pursue their South China Sea claims, such as the salami slicing strategy and cabbage tactics from the PRC. There has also been calls to end the ROC (Taiwan)'s illegal military actions in the South China Sea, especially on Taiping Island (Itu Aba), which is referred to the East Sea in Vietnamese. Additionally, China passed a law in January 2021 allowing its coast guard to fire on foreign vessels, causing greater concern amongst ASEAN states. It is considered that the Cham people, an Austronesian people indigenous to Central and South Vietnam, were the "ancient rulers of the South China Sea", having had conducted extensive trade and maritime routes throughout the Southeast Asian region.

Within ASEAN, Cambodia is often supportive of the PRC's positions, including on the South China Sea issue.


There have been territorial disputes between ASEAN member states such as the Cambodian–Thai border dispute between Cambodia and Thailand, Cambodian–Vietnamese border dispute between Cambodia and Vietnam, and the North Borneo dispute between the Philippines and Malaysia,. The Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia in 1978, backed by the Soviet Union, was not accepted by ASEAN. They rejected it as a violation of the principles of regional integration. ASEAN cooperated with US and Australia to oppose Vietnam's move and it sponsored a Cambodian resolution in the United Nations General Assembly. ASEAN played a major role starting in 1980 in the peace process, leading to the 1991 Paris Agreement.

Relations with other blocs

ASEAN with Plus 3 and Plus 6
     ASEAN      ASEAN Plus Three      ASEAN Plus Six

ASEAN Plus Three

In 1990, Malaysia proposed the creation of an East Asia Economic Caucus composed of the members of ASEAN, China, Japan, and South Korea. It intended to counterbalance the growing US influence in Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and Asia as a whole. However, the proposal failed because of strong opposition from the US and Japan. Work for further integration continued, and the ASEAN Plus Three, consisting of ASEAN, China, Japan, and South Korea, was created in 1997.

ASEAN Plus Three is a forum that functions as a coordinator of co-operation between the ASEAN and the three East Asian nations of China, South Korea, and Japan. Government leaders, ministers, and senior officials from the ten members of the ASEAN and the three East Asian states consult on an increasing range of issues. The ASEAN Plus Three is the latest development of Southeast Asia-East Asia regional co-operation. In the past, proposals, such as South Korea's call for an Asian Common Market in 1970 and Japan's 1988 suggestion for an Asian Network, have been made to bring closer regional co-operation.

The first leaders' meetings were held in 1996, and 1997 to deal with Asia–Europe Meeting issues, and China and Japan each wanted regular summit meetings with ASEAN members afterwards. The group's significance and importance were strengthened by the Asian Financial Crisis. In response to the crisis, ASEAN closely cooperated with China, South Korea, and Japan. Since the implementation of the Joint Statement on East Asia Cooperation in 1999 at the Manila Summit, ASEAN Plus Three finance ministers have been holding periodic consultations. ASEAN Plus Three, in establishing the Chiang Mai Initiative, has been credited as forming the basis for financial stability in Asia, the lack of such stability having contributed to the Asian Financial Crisis.

Since the process began in 1997, ASEAN Plus Three has also focused on subjects other than finance such as the areas of food and energy security, financial co-operation, trade facilitation, disaster management, people-to-people contacts, narrowing the development gap, rural development, and poverty alleviation, human trafficking, labour movement, communicable diseases, environment and sustainable development, and transnational crime, including counter-terrorism. With the aim of further strengthening the nations' co-operation, East Asia Vision Group (EAVG) II was established at the 13th ASEAN Plus Three Summit on 29 October 2010 in Hanoi to stock-take, review, and identify the future direction of the co-operation.

The ASEAN Plus Three framework also serves as a platform for the ASEAN affiliated intergovernmental organizations in China, Korea, and Japan to meet and cooperate. The ASEAN-China Centre, the ASEAN-Japan Centre, and ASEAN-Korea Centre currently convene annually to discuss ongoing projects and to discuss possible areas of cooperation vis-a-vis ASEAN.

ASEAN Plus Six

ASEAN Plus Three was the first of attempts for further integration to improve existing ties of Southeast Asia with East Asian countries of China, Japan and South Korea. This was followed by the even larger East Asia Summit (EAS), which included ASEAN Plus Three as well as India, Australia, and New Zealand. This group acted as a prerequisite for the planned East Asia Community which was supposedly patterned after the European Community (now transformed into the European Union). The ASEAN Eminent Persons Group was created to study this policy's possible successes and failures.

The group became ASEAN Plus Six with Australia, New Zealand, and India, and stands as the linchpin of Asia Pacific's economic, political, security, socio-cultural architecture, as well as the global economy. Codification of the relations between these countries has seen progress through the development of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, a free-trade agreement involving the 15 countries of ASEAN Plus Six (excluding India). RCEP would, in part, allow the members to protect local sectors and give more time to comply with the aim for developed country members.

The economies in this region that have not joined the RCEP are: Hong Kong, India, Macau, North Korea and Taiwan.

Hong Kong is actively seeking to join. Hong Kong itself has signed free trade agreements with ASEAN, New Zealand, Mainland China, and Australia. Mainland China welcomes Hong Kong's participation. According to the 2018 policy address of the Special Chief Executive, the Special Chief Executive She will start negotiations with RCEP member states after the signing of RCEP. As Asia's financial center and Asia's trading hub, Hong Kong can provide member countries with high-quality financial services.

India temporarily does not join the RCEP for the protection of its own market, but Japan, China, and ASEAN welcomes India's participation. The members stated that "the door will always be open" and promised to create convenient conditions for India to participate in RCEP. And India itself has signed free trade agreements with ASEAN, Japan and South Korea.

As a free trade port, Macau's tax rate itself is very low. Macau's economy does not depend on import and export trade. Tourism and gaming are the main economic industries in Macau. The Macau government did not state whether to join RCEP. Macau still has room for openness in the service industry.

Taiwan has been excluded from participating with the organization owing to China's influence on the Asia Pacific through its economic and diplomatic influence. Because Taiwan itself has a New Southbound Policy, the inability to join the RCEP is expected to have little impact on Taiwan. At the same time, Taiwan is also considering whether to cancel ECFA to counter China.


Borneo fires October 2006
Haze over Borneo, 2006

At the turn of the 21st century, ASEAN began to discuss environmental agreements. These included the signing of the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution in 2002 as an attempt to control haze pollution in Southeast Asia, arguably the region's most high-profile environmental issue. Unfortunately, this was unsuccessful due to the outbreaks of haze in 2005, 2006, 2009, 2013, and 2015. As of 2015, thirteen years after signing the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution, the situation with respect to the long term issue of Southeast Asian haze had not changed for 50% of the ASEAN member states, and still remained as a crisis every two years during summer and fall.

Trash dumping from foreign countries (such as Japan and Canada) to ASEAN has yet to be discussed and resolved. Important issues include deforestation (with Indonesia recorded the largest loss of forest in the region, more than other member states combined in the 2001-2013 period), plastic waste dumping (5 member states were among the top 10 out of 192 countries based on 2010 data, with Indonesia ranked as second worst polluter), threatened mammal species (Indonesia ranked the worst in the region with 184 species under threat), threatened fish species (Indonesia ranked the worst in the region), threatened (higher) plant species (Malaysia ranked the worst in the region).

ASEAN's aggregate economy is one of the fastest growing in the world. It is expected to grow by 4.6% in 2019, and 4.8% in 2020, but at the cost of the release about 1.5 billion tonnes of CO2 to the atmosphere every year. That makes ASEAN a greater source of greenhouse gas emissions than Japan (1.3 billion tonnes per year) or Germany (796 million tonnes per year). It is the only region in the world where coal is expected to increase its share of the energy mix. According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), "Since 2000 [ASEAN's] overall energy demand has grown by more than 80% and the lion's share of this growth has been met by a doubling in fossil fuel use,... Oil is the largest element in the regional energy mix and coal, largely for power generation, has been the fastest growing." ASEAN has been criticized for not doing enough to mitigate climate change although it is the world's most vulnerable region in terms of climate impact.

ASEAN has many opportunities for renewable energy. With solar and wind power plus off river pumped hydro storage, ASEAN electricity industry could achieve very high penetration (78%–97%) of domestic solar and wind energy resources at a competitive levelised costs of electricity range from 55 to 115 U.S. dollars per megawatt-hour based on 2020 technology costs. Vietnam's experience in solar and wind power development provides relevant implications for the other ASEAN countries.

Energy transition

Key features of energy transition in Southeast Asia
Key features of energy transition in Southeast Asia

The ASEAN has initiated its transition to cleaner energy sources. This transition is characterized as Demanding, Doable, and Dependent. With approximately 679 million inhabitants, the region is witnessing a substantial surge in energy demand, projected to triple by 2050. However, transitioning energy sources requires significant resources. Southeast Asia would need to invest USD 27 billion annually in renewable energy to achieve the target of 23% renewables in the primary energy supply by 2025. Nevertheless, this goal is attainable with the implementation of appropriate policies. Source:

Vietnam serves as a compelling example of rapid adoption of solar and wind energy. Since 2019, Vietnam has emerged as a regional leader, with solar and wind energy accounting for 13% of its electricity mix in 2022, a remarkable increase from nearly zero in 2017.

The region requires international assistance to meet its net-zero emission targets. Phasing out coal remains a daunting task, although countries such as Indonesia and Vietnam have pledged to phasing out coal power by 2040s.


To enhance the region's status in education, ASEAN education ministers have agreed four priorities for education at all levels, promoting ASEAN awareness among ASEAN citizens, particularly youth, strengthening ASEAN identity through education, building ASEAN human resources in the field of education strengthening the ASEAN University Network. At the 11th ASEAN Summit in December 2005, leaders set new direction for regional education collaboration when they welcomed the decision of the ASEAN education ministers to convene meetings on a regular basis. The annual ASEAN Education Ministers Meeting oversees co-operation efforts on education at the ministerial level. With regard to implementation, programs, and activities are carried out by the ASEAN Senior Officials on Education (SOM-ED). SOM-ED also manages co-operation on higher education through the ASEAN University Network (AUN). It is a consortium of Southeast Asian tertiary institutions of which 30 currently belong as participating universities. Founded in November 1995 by 11 universities, the AUN was established to: promote co-operation among ASEAN scholars, academics, and scientists, develop academic and professional human resources, promote information dissemination among the ASEAN academic community, enhance awareness of a regional identity and the sense of "ASEAN-ness" among member states.

The Southeast Asia Engineering Education Development Network (SEED-Net) Project was established as an autonomous sub-network of AUN in April 2001. It is aimed at promoting human resource development in engineering. The network consists of 26 member institutions selected by higher education ministries of each ASEAN member state, and 11 supporting Japanese universities selected by the Japanese government. This network is mainly supported by the Japanese government through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and partially supported by the ASEAN Foundation. SEED-Net activities are implemented by the SEED-Net secretariat with the support of the JICA Project for SEED-Net now based at Chulalongkorn University.

In November 2011, ten vocational schools and centers were established in China to help develop human resources to assist in the economic and social development of the ASEAN countries.

ASEAN also has a scholarship program offered by Singapore to the 9 other member states for secondary school, junior college, and university education. It covers accommodation, food, medical benefits and accident insurance, school fees, and examination fees. Its recipients, who perform well on the GCE Advanced Level Examination, may apply for ASEAN undergraduate scholarships, which are tailored specifically to undergraduate institutions in Singapore and other ASEAN member countries.

'Australia for ASEAN' scholarships are also offered by the Australian Government to the 'next generation of leaders' from ASEAN member states. By undertaking a Master's degree, recipients are to develop the skills and knowledge to drive change, help build links with Australia, and also participate in the Indo-Pacific Emerging Leaders Program to help develop the ASEAN Outlook for the Indo-Pacific. Each ASEAN member state is able to receive ten 'Australia for ASEAN' scholarships.


The organization hosts cultural activities in an attempt to further integrate the region. These include sports and educational activities as well as writing awards. Examples of these include the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity, ASEAN Heritage Parks and the ASEAN Outstanding Scientist and Technologist Award. In addition, the ASEAN region has been recognized as one of the world's most diverse regions ethnically, religiously and linguistically.


Member states have promoted co-operation in information to help build an ASEAN identity. One of the main bodies in ASEAN co-operation in information is the ASEAN Committee on Culture and Information (COCI). Established in 1978, its mission is to promote effective co-operation in the fields of information, as well as culture, through its various projects and activities. It includes representatives from national institutions like the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministries of Culture and Information, national radio and television networks, museums, archives and libraries, among others. Together, they meet once a year to formulate and agree on projects to fulfil their mission. On 14 November 2014, foreign ministers of member states launched the ASEAN Communication Master Plan (ACPM). It provides a framework for communicating the character, structure, and overall vision of ASEAN and the ASEAN community to key audiences within the region and globally. The plan seeks to demonstrate the relevance and benefits of the ASEAN through fact-based and compelling communications, recognising that the ASEAN community is unique and different from other country integration models.

ASEAN Media Cooperation (AMC) sets digital television standards and policies in preparation for broadcasters to transition from analogue to digital broadcasting. This collaboration was conceptualised during the 11th ASEAN Ministers Responsible for Information (AMRI) Conference in Malaysia on 1 March 2012 where a consensus declared that both new and traditional media were keys to connecting ASEAN peoples and bridging cultural gaps in the region. Several key initiatives under the AMC include:

  • The ASEAN Media Portal was launched 16 November 2007. The portal aims to provide a one-stop site that contains documentaries, games, music videos, and multimedia clips on the culture, arts, and heritage of the ASEAN countries to showcase ASEAN culture and the capabilities of its media industry.
  • The ASEAN NewsMaker Project, an initiative launched in 2009, trains students and teachers to produce informational video clips about their countries. The project was initiated by Singapore. Students trained in NewsMaker software, video production, together with developing narrative storytelling skills. Dr Soeung Rathchavy, Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN for ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community noted that: "Raising ASEAN awareness amongst the youth is part and parcel of our efforts to build the ASEAN Community by 2015. Using ICT and the media, our youths in the region will get to know ASEAN better, deepening their understanding and appreciation of the cultures, social traditions and values in ASEAN."
  • The ASEAN Digital Broadcasting Meeting, is an annual forum for ASEAN members to set digital television (DTV) standards and policies, and to discuss progress in the implementation of the blueprint from analogue to digital TV broadcasting by 2020. During the 11th ASEAN Digital Broadcasting Meeting members updated the status on DTV implementation and agreed to inform ASEAN members on the Guidelines for ASEAN Digital Switchover. An issue was raised around the availability and affordability of set-top boxes (STB), thus ASEAN members were asked to make policies to determine funding for STBs, methods of allocation, subsidies and rebates, and other methods for the allocation of STBs. It was also agreed in the meeting to form a task force to develop STB specifications for DVB-T2 to ensure efficiency.
  • The ASEAN Post was launched on 8 August 2017 to commemorate ASEAN's 50th Anniversary. It is an independent regional digital media company that is headquartered in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It was founded by former investment banker Rohan Ramakrishnan.
ASEAN Nations Flags in Jakarta 3
The flags of the ASEAN member states in Jakarta, Indonesia

National public/state-owned radio and television networks of ASEAN


Music plays a significant role in ASEAN affairs, as evidenced by the new music composed for, and to be performed at, the 34th ASEAN Summit in Bangkok in June 2019.

Since ASEAN's founding, a number of songs have been written for the regional alliance:

  • "The ASEAN Way", the official regional anthem of ASEAN. Music by Kittikhun Sodprasert and Sampow Triudom; lyrics by Payom Valaiphatchra.
  • "ASEAN Song of Unity" or "ASEAN Hymn". Music by Ryan Cayabyab.
  • "Let Us Move Ahead", an ASEAN song. Composed by Candra Darusman.
  • "ASEAN Rise", ASEAN's 40th anniversary song. Music by Dick Lee; lyrics by Stefanie Sun.
  • "ASEAN Spirit", ASEAN's 50th anniversary song. Composed by Chino Toledo. Lyrics by National Artist for Literature, Rio Alma. Performed by Christian Bautista; video directed by Joaquin Pedro Valdes.


The main sporting event of ASEAN is the Southeast Asian Games, a biennial meet of athletes from the ten member-states. A non-member state Timor-Leste (also known as East Timor) is now participating the SEA Games.

Games events

  1. ASEAN Games
  2. ASEAN University Games
  3. ASEAN School Games
  4. ASEAN Para Games

Championships events

  1. Southeast Asian Football Championship - Since 1996
  2. Southeast Asian Basketball Championship - Since 1994
  3. Southeast Asian Cricket Championship - Since
  4. Southeast Asian Handball Championship - Since
  5. Southeast Asian Floorball Championships
  6. Southeast Asian Hockey Championship
  7. Southeast Asian Baseball Championship
  8. Southeast Asian Volleyball Championship - Since 2019
  9. Southeast Asian Sepaktakraw Championship - Since
  10. Southeast Asian Footvolley Championship - Since
  11. Southeast Asian Youth Athletics Championships - Since
  12. Southeast Asian Swimming Championships - Since
  13. Southeast Asian Gymnastics Championship - Since
  14. Southeast Asian Cycling Championship - Since
  15. Southeast Asian Shooting Championship
  16. Southeast Asian Archery Championship
  17. Southeast Asian Sailing Championship
  18. Southeast Asian Rowing Championship
  19. Southeast Asian Canoeing Championship
  20. Southeast Asian Boxing Championship
  21. Southeast Asian Fencing Championship
  22. Southeast Asian Kurash Championship
  23. Southeast Asian Wrestling Championship
  24. Southeast Asian Weightlifting Championship
  25. Southeast Asian Powerlifting Championship
  26. Southeast Asian Bodybuilding Championship
  27. Southeast Asian Judo Championship
  28. Southeast Asian Jujitsu Championship
  29. Southeast Asian Muaythai Championship
  30. Southeast Asian Sambo Championship - Since
  31. Southeast Asian Vovinam Championship - Since
  32. Southeast Asian Karate Championship
  33. Southeast Asian Taekwondo Championship
  34. Southeast Asian Wushu Championship
  35. Southeast Asian Pencak Silat Championship
  36. Southeast Asian Badminton Championship
  37. Southeast Asian Tennis Championship
  38. Southeast Asian Table Tennis Championships
  39. Southeast Asian Squash Championship
  40. Southeast Asian Chess Championship
  41. Southeast Asian Triathlon Championship
  42. Southeast Asian Golf Championship (ASEAN PGA Tour) - Since 2007
  43. Southeast Asian Esports Championship
  44. Southeast Asian Bowling Championship
  45. Southeast Asian Cue Sports Championship
  46. Southeast Asian Arnis Championship
  47. Southeast Asian Chinlone Championship
  48. Southeast Asian Contract Bridge Championship
  49. Southeast Asian Bowls Championship
  50. Southeast Asian Go Championship
  51. Southeast Asian Dragon Boat Championship
  52. Southeast Asian Obstacle Racing Championship
  53. Southeast Asian Polo Championship
  54. Southeast Asian Waterskiing Championship
  55. Southeast Asian Woodball Championship
  56. Southeast Asian Finswimming Championship


ASEAN is recognized by its members to be one of the main forums to discuss security issues; based on the principles in its charter, its main aim is to provide an environment of common understanding and cooperation between the member states to "respond effectively to all forms of threats, transitional crimes and transboundary challenges". Accordingly, ASEAN has embraced the idea of cooperative security which means that ASEAN's approach to security issues is through confidence-building measures and transparency for reducing the tension and conflict between its members. Security policies and plans are concerted by the ASEAN Political-Security Community to envision "a concert of Southeast Asian nations, outward looking, living in peace, stability and prosperity, bonded together in partnership in dynamic development and in a community of caring societies."


Piracy in the strait of Malacca and in the Sulu and Celebes Sea is one of the main non-traditional security threats for the region, it has challenged the capacity of its members to ensure coordination of effective policy actions to reduce this phenomenon. As highlighted by the ReCAAP report of 2020: "The increase of incidents (in Asia) during January–June 2020 occurred in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, South China Sea and Singapore Strait." The increment of incidents during 2020, have raised alerts in the region as the phenomenon of piracy could be fostered by the social consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, in their Fourteenth Asean Ministerial Meeting On Transnational Crime the ministers agreed that ASEAN should embrace a greater commitment to strengthen the measures in combating transnational crime in the context of the pandemic. Despite this statement, ASEAN has not updated their plans for combating piracy, although member states created and enforced the Maritime Security Plan of Action 2018-2020, to address the national legal enforcement capacities and creating a common protocol of action to counter piracy allowing the region to cooperate for ensuring the security of the Pacific Ocean, new discussions and agendas for new measures has not been enforced yet.

Accordingly, this plan reinforces the necessity to secure the seas due to the importance of this region geographical and economically, its strategic position as the main link between the Indian and the Pacific Ocean and the region serving as the main passage that connects middle east economies and India with China, Japan, South Korea and Australia. This plan is mainly focused in three priorities:

  1. Shared Awareness and exchange of best practices.
  2. Confidence building measures based on international and regional legal frameworks, arrangements and cooperation.
  3. Capacity building and enhancing cooperation of maritime law enforcement agencies in the region.

In this sense, spread all over the countries of Southeast Asia, criminal organizations with complex structures pose a challenge to ASEAN's coordination capacity to solve the problem despite the plans created within its institutional framework. Although some measures have been implemented by ASEAN, still the complexity of the problem requires deep solutions of cooperation that might alter the balance of its framework. The maritime security plans for the region are based on the ASEAN idea of political-security community; the two main objectives of the APSC are: "to accelerate the economic growth, social progress and cultural development by promoting an identity of equality and partnership as the main foundations of peace and prosperity". Additionally, the APSC promotes "regional peace and stability through abiding respect for justice and the rule of law in the relationship among countries of the region and adherence to the principles of the United Nations Charter".  

Nonetheless, the institutional framework and decision-making procedures in ASEAN make difficult to reach agreements on piracy. ASEAN has struggled to deliver a coordinated response to solve this problem in the region mainly by two reasons: the first one, could be related to the focalized nature of the problem in subregions rather than the whole region. Consequently, this focalization generates that the discussions in the main forums (The ASEAN maritime forum (AMF) and Maritime Security Expert Working Group (MSEWG)) have not resulted in actual measures that tackle piracy and involve all member states as major consensus should be reached to enforce them. One example of this, is the possibility discussed by the 10 ASEAN member states to create a joint ASEAN navy in 2015 to carry on operations in one of the piracy hotspots in the region, the strait of Malacca, this proposal ended up being enforced by bilateral/sub-regional efforts rather than in the ASEAN framework (see ReCAAP for further information).  The second one, consensus on non-traditional security issues has been difficult to reach due to contradictory interest between member states, particularly in joint operations between navies and the reach of these joint operations. These issues are generated mainly by unresolved territorial disputes, specially in the maritime domain, at some extent they pose a challenge to ASEAN members in their capacity to cooperate in regards to the maritime security approach.

Consequently, a greater multilateral cooperation has been pushed by the members to solve the piracy challenges on economy, trading and security. Members of the ASEAN, have addressed the necessity for the regional organization to make some concessions and rearrangements to respond to the challenges that non-traditional security (specifically piracy) issues posse to the security of the ASEAN members. Despite the efforts and plans made by the ASEAN, this organization is expected to overcome the image of being regarded solely as a forum to discuss security issues. Two possible solutions has been proposed by some member states for this purpose: 1. Promoting relationships with other major actors regionally to overcome the short-time challenges and 2. Rearrange the institutional framework to "avoid contention and seek cooperation to maximize the aggregate ability in order to benefit from making the sea fulfil its economic, security and other goals".

Future Security Framework

In addition to piracy, there are several significant issues facing ASEAN today, including human rights violations, repression, and democratic backsliding. Across the region, various political leaders are known human rights abusers, however there is no proper accountability process, and often human rights violations are sidelined by economic or political interests. Myanmar is in the midst of a devastating civil war, during which the military government that was installed following a coup d’état, has carried out horrendous human rights violations against the Rohingya population. The non-interference principle upon which ASEAN was founded further complicates the situation as countries must respect one another’s sovereignty, and have pledged not to become involved in the domestic affairs of other ASEAN members. ASEAN and other multilateral institutions can continue to practice non-interference while working towards an overarching policy or agreement that holds political leaders accountable for repeated human rights abuses. However, their fundamental principles of non-interference and consensus-building that were vital in helping coordinate responses to the COVID-19 pandemic are proving to be obstacles, as states have different stances on handling human rights concerns which could prevent a consensus from being reached and stall any sort of response to the inhumane crimes.

A comprehensive security framework must emphasize security cooperation and peaceful resolution of disputes. Scholars argue that given the highly interconnected nature of the current world, countries must work towards a "broader conception of security beyond military security". When ASEAN was founded in 1976, the world was embroiled in the Cold War, and military strength and preparedness was at the forefront of security policy for many states, both long-established and newly independent. The transition from a bipolar globe during the mid to late 20th century to a modern multipolar stage has driven the need and rise of multilateral institutions. Given the ongoing hegemonic battle between the United States and China, a successful comprehensive security framework for ASEAN would be one that prevents one state from overpowering the others and reinforces the central consensus-building principle of ASEAN. Not only can a comprehensive framework strengthen security relations among ASEAN members, but also foster economic integration and build greater trust among partners.

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Asociación de Naciones de Asia Sudoriental para niños

  • ASEAN Smart Cities Network
  • ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women
  • ASEAN Common Time
  • ASEAN-India Car Rally 2012
  • ASEAN Sculpture Garden
  • Asian Monetary Unit
  • Asia Pacific Forum
  • Blue card system – ASEAN motor insurance scheme
  • Comprehensive Economic Partnership for East Asia
  • List of ASEAN countries by GDP (nominal)
  • List of country groupings
  • List of the largest trading partners of the ASEAN
  • List of multilateral free-trade agreements
  • Mekong-Ganga Cooperation
  • Pan-Asianism
  • Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership
  • Southeast Asia Treaty Organisation
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