Ever since Asean leaders first made regional integration by 2015 their goal six years ago, work has been under way to make the investments and carry out the reforms necessary to bring the Asean Economic Community into being.
However, many economists, academics and diplomats for years have been sceptical about the readiness of such a diverse group of 10 countries to form an economic union. Difficult obstacles emerged and progress appeared to slow as the clock ticked closer to the deadline.
Last September at a meeting in Cambodia, officials finally conceded that the launch of the AEC would be delayed to the end of 2015 from the beginning. They settled on December 31, and not a day later, as a face-saving choice after so many years of “AEC 2015” sloganeering and propaganda. The decision undermined Asean’s credibility, not only in the eyes of the international community but also among regional and domestic audiences.
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