In a decisive step toward ASEAN banking integration, central bank governors from around the region came together in early April 2011 to endorse the ASEAN Banking Integration Framework (ABIF).

This framework is part of the ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint, which promises to bring economic benefits and financial stability to individual countries and the region through multilateral liberalisation by 2015.Flexibility is key to this process, and so a double-track implementation plan has been adopted for the ASEAN 5 (Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia), and BCLMV countries (Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam).

Authorities from the 10 central banks agreed upon four preconditions to ensure the banking integration framework is successfully implemented. The first is harmonisation of regulations. The second is building financial-stability infrastructure. The third is assisting the BCLMV countries to build their banking capacity. The fourth is establishing set criteria for ASEAN qualified banks to operate in any ASEAN country with a single ‘passport’.Yet even at this early stage, the integration framework has sparked many crucial debates.

The first is about the definition of integration and its benchmark indicators. Banking integration can be measured by price-based measures or quantity-based measures. When calculating banking integration, the ASEAN Framework Agreement on Services (AFAS) currently takes four factors into account: cross-border bank flows, consumption abroad, the presence of commercial banks, and the movement of people. But ABIF’s concept of integration is restricted to only the commercial presence of qualified banks, which it takes as the benchmark for ASEAN banking integration by 2020

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ASEAN banking integration: positioning Indonesia

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