Gross domestic product in Asean has surged to $2.6 trillion in 2016, about the size of U.K.’s economy, from a mere $37.6 billion in 1970. Growth in Asean is seen at 4.9 percent next year, with Myanmar, Vietnam and the Philippines posting the fastest expansion in the region, according to BMI Research.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations has much to crow about as it marks its 50th anniversary: economic and social progress, a manufacturing powerhouse and relative political stability.
Accodrdingly, the World Economic Forum think tank prediction, the 10 Asean members boast of some of the world’s fastest expanding economies like the Philippines and Vietnam, with growth rates of more than 6 percent. With a combined population of over 620 million and an economy of $2.6 trillion, the investment potential is huge and by 2020, the region will have the world’s fifth largest economy.
Yet the goal of integrated economies remains a long way off. Businesses still face restrictions despite a 2015 blueprint mapping steps to eliminate trade barriers and create a single market to allow the free flow of goods, services and labor.
Diverse political regimes from a democracy in Indonesia to a military junta in Thailand to communist governments in Laos and Vietnam present barriers to closer ties. Issues such as competing claims over parts of the South China Sea have also fueled discord.
Song Seng Wun, an economist at CIMB Private Banking in Singapore, who has covered the region for more than two decades, said “It’s always individual first and Asean next,
Established in 1967 in Bangkok, the five founding members -- Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand -- set up Asean to boost economic growth and promote peace. Since then, they’ve transformed from largely poor and agricultural nations into production hubs of products from cars to mobile phones.
The following charts outline the Asean economy five decades on:
Credit : Melissa-Cheok