What is the 'Association of Southeast Asian Nations – ASEAN'

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is an organization of 10 Southeast Asian countries that was set up to promote cultural, economic and political development in the region. 

BREAKING DOWN 'Association of Southeast Asian Nations – ASEAN'

ASEAN was formed in 1967 with the signing of the Bangkok Declaration and initially consisted of five members: Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. The original purpose of the group was to calm tensions between its members and to contain the spread of communism in the region, but ASEAN's priorities shifted, and in the 1990s it incorporated the communist states of Vietnam (1995) and Laos (1997), as well as the quasi-communist Cambodia (1999). Brunei joined in 1984 and Myanmar in 1997. A 1995 agreement created a nuclear-free zone in Southeast Asia.

Since 1993, the bloc has been cutting tariffs in an effort to create an ASEAN Free Trade Area, which the group's website describes as "virtually established." As a result, intra-ASEAN trade has risen from 19% in 1993 to 24% in 2015. As of 2016, ASEAN's 10 economies represent $2.5 trillion in combined gross domestic product (GDP), around 3% of the global total, according to the World Bank; their combined population is 639 million people, around 9% of the global total.

Many ASEAN neighbors claim territories in the energy-rich South China Sea, bringing them into competition with each other and most of all China. Failed attempts to sort out these claims have undermined the group's influence, as has the Trump administration's decision to pull out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a free trade pact that would have linked the U.S. to Singapore, Brunei, Vietnam and Malaysia – along with non-ASEAN Pacific Rim nations such as Japan, Mexico, Canada and Australia. 

RELATED TERMS
  1. Bamboo Network

    The Bamboo Network is a network of expat-Chinese businesses in ...
  2. Executives' Meeting of East Asia ...

    An organization of 11 central banks from the southeast and Pacific ...
  3. SGD

    SGD is a currency abbreviation that refers to the Singapore Dollar, ...
  4. Free Trade Area

    Free trade areas are regions where member countries have signed ...
  5. Four Asian Tigers

    The Four Asian Tigers refer to the high-growth economies of Hong ...
  6. Singapore Exchange - SGX

    The Singapore Exchange is a full service equities, fixed income ...
Related Articles
  1. Insights

    How to Invest in the Philippines' Stock Market (EPHE, PIE)

    The Philippines offers more long-term growth potential than most economies around the world. Here's how to play it.
  2. Investing

    Singapore Shoppers Cool to Amazon's Advantages

    Amazon is struggling in Singapore because consumers there prefer to hit physical stores and malls.
  3. Insights

    The Next Amazon-Alibaba Battle Will Be Fought in Southeast Asia

    After months of speculation, Amazon finally entered the Southeast Asian market in what is seen as a direct assault on Alibaba.
  4. Investing

    EWS: iShares MSCI Singapore ETF

    Learn more about BlackRock Advisor's iShares Singapore MSCI exchange-traded fund, which looks to mirror the holdings and yield from Singapore markets.
  5. Retirement

    Can You Afford to Retire in Singapore?

    It costs a lot. But many find the “Switzerland of Asia” well worth the expense.
  6. Retirement

    Thailand Vs. Vietnam: Which Is Better for Retirees?

    Learn how Vietnam and Thailand compare in terms of living cost, access to health care and lifestyle to help you decide which is the best retirement destination.
  7. Investing

    Slow Growth in China to Affect Asia-Pacific

    As China's growth slows, it will affect different countries in the Asia-Pacific region differently.
  8. Investing

    Amazon Off to a Rocky Start In Southeast Asia

    The launch of Prime Now in Singapore is off to a rocky start due to same-day delivery issues.
  9. Retirement

    Can You Trust the Philippines Healthcare System?

    Expats will find reliable, affordable care as long as they live in or near Manila – or are willing to travel there when the need arises.
RELATED FAQS
  1. Why is Singapore considered a tax haven?

    Discover why Singapore is considered a tax haven, and learn about corporate tax rates and incentives that make this city-state ... Read Answer >>
  2. What is the difference between Communism and Socialism?

    Communism and socialism are umbrella terms referring to left-wing schools of economic thought that oppose capitalism. Read Answer >>
  3. What country spends the most on research and development?

    Discover which country spends the most on research and development, in both dollar terms and as a percentage of gross domestic ... Read Answer >>
  4. What countries represent the largest portion of the global banking sector?

    Learn how four countries, China, the U.K., France and the U.S., exhibit the greatest influence over the global banking sector, ... Read Answer >>
Trading Center