1. The ASEAN Leaders at their Summit in Kuala Lumpur in December 1997 decided to transform ASEAN into a stable, prosperous, and highly competitive region with equitable economic development, and reduced poverty and socio-economic disparities (ASEAN Vision 2020).

2. At the Bali Summit in October 2003, ASEAN Leaders declared that the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) shall be the goal of regional economic integration (Bali Concord II) by 2020. In addition to the AEC, the ASEAN Security Community and the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community are the other two integral pillars of the envisaged ASEAN Community. All the three pillars are expected to work in tandem in establishing the ASEAN Community in 2020.

3. Subsequently, the ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting (AEM) held in August 2006 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, agreed to develop "a single and coherent blueprint for advancing the AEC by identifying the characteristics and elements of the AEC by 2015 consistent with the Bali Concord II with clear targets and timelines for implementation of various measures as well as pre-agreed flexibilities to accommodate the interests of all ASEAN Member Countries."

4. At the 12th ASEAN Summit in January 2007, the Leaders affirmed their strong commitment to accelerate the establishment of an ASEAN Community by 2015 as envisioned in the ASEAN Vision 2020 and the ASEAN Concord II, and signed the Cebu Declaration on the Acceleration of the Establishment of an ASEAN Community by 2015. In particular, the Leaders agreed to hasten the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community by 2015 and to transform ASEAN into a region with free movement of goods, services, investment, skilled labour, and freer flow of capital.

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