2015 is a year of economic change for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), as the region seeks to establish the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) by December 31.

The AEC will usher in a single economic market for the ASEAN member nations – Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam – allowing the free movement of goods, services, skilled labor, and capital.

The reorganization of the region’s economy will be a step toward ASEAN’s “Vision 2020,” which calls for a unified partnership that is outward-looking, peaceful, stable, prosperous, and developing in a dynamic way.

As ASEAN nations open their economies to the freer flow of capital, they may also open themselves to some short-term economic and social disruptions that often occur when more liberal economic logic takes precedence over protective social policies. The region will need more than economic cohesion, however, to accomplish Vision 2020.

As ASEAN nations open their economies to the freer flow of capital, they may also open themselves to some short-term economic and social disruptions that often occur when more liberal economic logic takes precedence over protective social policies.

The AEC is expected to boost regional trade and create new investment and employment opportunities, but members will also face a range of challenges to ensure that economic growth is inclusive and beneficial to all.

There is a fear, indeed, that regional integration based purely on the rules of a market economy may favor those with capital and harm those without it.

There is also a fear that opening national borders to new products and new companies, while offering more choice and lower prices for consumers, may also hurt less competitive local producers or farmers.

The AEC, thus, presents a challenge to Southeast Asia: to create a regional model that provides both an open economy and social support for less developed nations, and in turn, its poorer citizens.

Source: Social Entrepreneurship: A Tool for ASEAN Integration? | In Asia

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