A global powerhouse has emerged in the past decade: it’s called ASEAN, or the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. With more than 600 million people, the combined population of ASEAN’s 10 member states makes it the world’s third-largest market. If the region were a single country, it would be the seventh-largest economy in the world.
But what is the point of creating a regional bloc? Are countries really stronger when they’re together than when they’re apart?
ASEAN’s growth and stability have made it a top destination for investors and multinational companies alike. Its emerging middle class is also a draw: market research firm Nielsen forecasts that the number of people in the region’s middle-income bracket will reach 400 million by 2020. This is up from 190 million in 2012.
By coming together, ASEAN’s 10 nations have deepened their political and economic alliances, improved cooperation and boosted economic growth and social progress. But while the creation of the ASEAN Economic Community has been on several counts a success, there’s still a lot to be done on the travel side when it comes to the secure and seamless movement of people.
A move towards an ASEAN common visa for tourists and business travellers would require all 10 ASEAN states to implement joint policies and adopt common processes, as well as harmonize documents and data standards.