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Moving the AEC Beyond 2015: Managing Domestic Consensus for Community-Building

The ten Southeast Asian economies reached a milestone on 31 December 2015, when they announced the formation of an ASEAN Community. Although this includes three pillars - ASEAN Political-Security Community, ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) and the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community - it is the economic pillar that generates immense debate, due to its expected quantifiable benefits to member countries. This book focuses on the ASEAN Economic Community and seeks to explain the need for building domestic consensus within the member countries. It includes six country chapters - Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam - that examine sources of domestic conflict/s in greater detail and depth. Ex-Secretary General of ASEAN, Mr Rodolfo Severino, co-authored a regional chapter that highlights the political nature of ASEAN economic cooperation since its inception in 1976. For ASEAN beyond 2015, the book articulates the need to obtain a strong domestic consensus that supports the integration initiatives of the AEC. This can be viewed as a way forward to accelerate and deepen integration within ASEAN..

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Trade Regionalism in the Asia-Pacific: Developments and Future Challenges

Asia has witnessed a proliferation of free trade agreements (FTAs) since the turn of the millennium. The first regional agreement — the ASEAN FTA — was transformed into the ASEAN Economic Community at the end of 2015. In the meantime, ASEAN forged five ASEAN+1 FTAs and began to negotiate a sixteen-member Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement. In parallel, the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), supporting U.S. foreign policy of "Pivot to Asia", was broadly agreed in October 2015. This book ruminates on these regional agreements, their economic and strategic rationales and challenges during negotiations and afterwards. The book brings together eminent scholars and experts to deepen our understanding of the complex nature of the mega-regional trade agreements and their implications. It is useful both for the academic and research community and for policymakers who focus on trade and economic cooperation issues.

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Do Young People Know ASEAN? Update of a Ten-nation Survey

In 2007, a survey — the first of its kind — was carried out to gauge young people's awareness of and attitudes towards ASEAN. An update to the 2007 survey was carried out in 2014–15 among the same target population but with an expanded scope of twenty-two universities and institutes of higher learning across the ten member states. In the updated survey, we found that there are more ASEAN-positive attitudes region-wide, but there are also increases in ASEAN-ambivalent attitudes at country-level in some ASEAN members. This book details the key findings of the updated survey compared to the earlier survey. These include nation-by-nation results and a summary of region-wide trends, as well as what they suggest for the prospects of ASEAN integration beyond 2015.

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The ASEAN Economic Community and Beyond: Myths and Realities

Author: Sanchita Basu Das
The year 2015 has special significance for regional economic integration. The ASEAN Community, integrating the political, economic and social aspects of regional cooperation, will complete its first milestone by December 2015. Expectations of tangible benefits under an ASEAN Economic Community have attracted much attention though many of the initiatives will be realized post-2015.The Southeast Asian economies are also involved in two other regional initiatives. First is the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), initiated by the United States. Second, the discussions on regional connectivity have broadened; China has emerged as a recent lead proponent with its proposals for "One Belt, One Road" and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. All these together have implications not only for individual Southeast Asian countries but also for regional trading architecture. To aid in understanding the beginnings, development, and potential of these grand plans, this collection of 22 essays offers a rich analysis of ASEAN's own economic integration and other related initiatives proliferating in the broader Asia-Pacific region.

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The Political Economy of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the TransPacific Partnership (TPP) Agreements: An ASEAN Perspective

Editor: Sanchita Basu Das

ASEAN has been active in the formation of regional trade agreements (RTAs) since the early 1990s. Besides its own integration initiatives like the ASEAN Free Trade Area and the ASEAN Economic Community, ASEAN has also enacted five plus 1 FTAs with China, South Korea, Japan, India, Australia and New Zealand, making ASEAN an FTA hub for broader Asian region. A decision was reached in November 2011 to establish a comprehensive RTA, covering the five ASEAN+1 FTAs under the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) framework. Another RTA that has attracted lot of attention lately is the TransPacific Partnership (TPP), led by the United States.

Despite the similar objective of increasing economic cooperation, the two RTAs differ from each other. RCEP is expected to accommodate the development differences of the member countries, while TPP is said to have a more demanding set of commitments. Both RCEP and TPP are perceived to have strategic roles in the AsiaPacific region. TPP is a component of the U.S.'s Asian 'pivot' strategy , in reaction to Asia's economic rise and integration efforts. TPP also can be viewed as a consequence of the limited integration progress under APEC. In addition many have argued that TPP is a containment strategy aimed at China. RCEP is expected to reinforce ASEAN 'centrality' in the wider AsiaPacific regional architecture. The ongoing negotiations for both RCEP and TPP face complex challenges, and are expected to encounter difficulties to conclude.

The ASEAN Economic Community- A Work in Progress

Editors: Sanchita Basu Das, Jayant Menon, Rodolfo C. Severino, Omkar Lal Shrestha

As the 2015 ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) target approaches, this volume examines the issues and challenges with a sympathetic yet arms-length approach.  ASEAN will miss some of the targets laid out in its AEC Blueprint, but the reader is left in no doubt that the ASEAN spirit is alive and well. This edited volume has contributions from an outstanding and diverse group of authors, and the co-editors have added their highly authoritative commentary and analysis based on their respective wide experience of regional economic integration processes.   A must-read for anybody serious interested in ASEAN.  

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AEC Scorecard: Performance and Perception

Editor: Sanchita Basu Das

The official AEC Scorecard tracks the implementation of measures and the achievement of milestones to which ASEAN member states have committed in the AEC Strategic Schedule. However, the AEC Scorecard in its current form, conveys little information to ASEAN citizens. This book aims to fill the information gap and evaluate the current state of progress towards accomplishing the AEC Blueprint priorities. The overall message of this book is that although some of the goals set for regional economic integration will be missed by December 2015, ASEAN can certainly deliver some of the key AEC initiatives, including tariff elimination; establishing the ASEAN Single Window; laying the foundation for the regional investment initiative; advancing ASEAN tourism services; moving ahead with ASEAN connectivity; and realisation of ASEAN's +1 FTAs. The AEC goal of forming an equitable and competitive regional economic community will continue to be a work in progress.  

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Enhancing ASEAN's Connectivity

Editor: Sanchita Basu Das
ASEAN has set itself the goal to create an economic community by 2015. To achieve this, connectivity among the member states needs to be given due importance. In 2010, ASEAN adopted a Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity, which looks at the physical, institutional, and people-to-people aspects of the issue. 15 priority projects have the potential to transform the region, providing the conditions for a single market and production base. But this will be an expensive endeavour, and funding remains a challenge. The private sector needs to be actively involved, especially for the infrastructure projects that lack substantial investment. This book looks at the current state of ASEAN's physical connectivity and the challenges in building better infrastructure. The chapters discuss specific issues pertaining to the types of infrastructure challenges. The book concludes with recommendations on steps to be taken in implementing the various plans.  

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Urbanisation in Southeast Asia: Issues and Impacts

Editors: Yap Kioe Sheng and Moe Thuzar

Urbanisation occurs in tandem with development. Countries in Southeast Asia need to build - individually and collectively - the capacity of their cities and towns to promote economic growth and development, to make urban development more sustainable, to mitigate and adapt to climate change, and to ensure that all groups in society share in that development.  This book is the result of a series of regional discussions by experts and practitioners involved in the urban development and planning of their countries. It highlights urbanisation issues that have implications for regional - including ASEAN - cooperation, and provides practical recommendations for policy makers. It is a first step towards assisting governments in the region to take advantage of existing collaborative partnerships to address the urban transformation that Southeast Asia is facing today.  

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ASEAN-Russia: Foundations and Future Prospects

Editors: Victor Sumsky, Mark Hong, Amy Lugg

Assuming duties of Chair of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) for 2012, Russia is keen to build on its membership in the East Asia Summit under the ASEAN regional architecture, as well as in the Asia-Europe Meeting. Geographically, Russia is part of both Asia and the Asia-Pacific. It has been an ASEAN Dialogue Partner since 1996. Still, the obstacles of distance and language have prevented ASEAN and Russia from learning more about, and interacting with, each other. As growth poles in the world economy, there is much to benefit from greater interactions between their rich economies.  This edited volume compiles insights and analyses offered by representatives of the academe, public and private sectors at a conference co-organised by the ASEAN Studies Centre at ISEAS and the MGIMO University, on topics ranging from geopolitics, bilateral relations, business and economics, and culture and education.  This is a timely volume published in commemoration of the 15th anniversary of ASEAN-Russia Dialogue, offering insights to where ASEAN-Russia relations currently stand, and how they can improve and move forward.

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Achieving the ASEAN Economic Community 2015: Challenges for Member Countries and Businesses

Editor: Sanchita Basu Das

ASEAN leaders have declared their commitment to achieve an ASEAN Economic Community by 2015. Doing so requires cooperation and coordination within and among the ten individual member states. With the varying considerations that countries have towards full liberalisation, protectionism still persists in certain sectors of the economy.  Much needs to be done to address the gaps in domestic reforms, infrastructure, human resource development, and adequate institutions. Moreover, as effective integration can be achieved only with business sector participation, policymakers play a vital role in boosting the engagement of businesses in ASEAN integration.  With the limited time available, ASEAN needs to focus on "core" elements of integration and implement them in the shortest possible time.  The rest can follow beyond 2015. With this in mind, this edited volume examines the state of readiness in member states for ASEAN integration, and the challenges for businesses to come on board.  It gives recommendations for some of the issues faced by stakeholders. 

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ASEAN Regional Forum

Author: Rodolfo C. Severino

The ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) is the only Asia-Pacific-wide forum for consultations and dialogue on political and security issues. Although many articles and books have been published on the ARF, this is one of the few books that treat the ARF comprehensively and from the standpoint of the region itself.  It traces the ARF's origins, the efforts to move it from confidence-building to 'preventive diplomacy', and the forces that hold them back, analysing the strategic environment that both constrains the ARF and makes it essential.  The book discusses the question of participation in the ARF, discusses the numerous cooperative activities that the ARF participants undertake, and deals with the issue of institutionalisation. Finally, it assesses the ARF as a forum and a process in its own terms. The book is written by a former ASEAN Secretary-General, who himself was a former ASEAN senior official involved in the ARF's early years. 

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ASEAN: Life After the Charter

Editor: S Tiwari

With the completion of the ASEAN Charter, ASEAN needs to fully appreciate and work out the issues connected with its implementation.  It is also important for ASEAN and its business sector to understand and implement two key integration instruments - the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement and the ASEAN Comprehensive Investment Agreement, and the business enhancing initiatives under them.  These take on an added urgency in view of the commitment to achieve the ASEAN Economic Community by 2015. This is the first book to examine these issues, the problems related to them and the possible solutions.  Edited by Mr S Tiwari, the ASEAN Studies Centre's former Lead Researcher for ASEAN-related legal affairs,  the book compiles analyses and insights by representatives of policy, business, and research communities, and ASEAN Secretariat officers, shared at a workshop organised at ISEAS in July 2009.  Various stakeholders of ASEAN will each find topics of relevance in the miscellany of trade and policy issues discussed, and in the succinct summaries of each chapter.

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Myanmar: Life After Nargis

Authors: Pavin Chachavalpongpun and Moe Thuzar

On May 2-3, 2008, Cyclone Nargis slammed into Myanmar's Ayeyawaddy delta, leaving some 130,000 dead, and more than two million homeless and without recourse to relief and recovery needs. The ensuing confusion in the media and international circles over Myanmar's initial delay in responding to the humanitarian crisis caused by Nargis, led ASEAN to take on the role of facilitator, mediator and convenor in coordinating international and regional efforts to assist Myanmar in a joint response. The unique circumstances provided a window for international, regional, and local groups to work together in unprecedented ways. The tripartite cooperation among the Government of Myanmar, the United Nations, and ASEAN in responding to Nargis now serves as a case study in the context of humanitarian assistance and disaster management. 

Through June-December 2008, Centre researchers Pavin and Moe documented ASEAN's role in helping Myanmar respond to Nargis. A preliminary report was provided to the 14th ASEAN Summit in February 2009. The final report, "Myanmar: Life After Nargis" was launched by the ASEAN Secretary-General at the 42nd ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on 20 July 2009.