Narrowing the Development GapThe ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), to be established by 2015, is one of the main objectives of the region’s economic integration. As ASEAN works towards the implementation of the AEC Blueprint, there are many issues relating to the realisation of the AEC that need to be considered. One key challenge is to find a balance in terms of coherence and support among the ASEAN Member States towards economic integration. Aiming at narrowing the development divide and enhancing ASEAN’s competitiveness, the ASEAN Leaders at their Summit in 2000 launched the Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI) with the objectives of narrowing the development gap and accelerating economic integration in ASEAN. The IAI is primarily directed towards the newer members of ASEAN, namely Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, and Viet Nam. However, it also encompasses sub-regional groupings, such as the Greater Mekong, Brunei Darussalam – Indonesia – Malaysia – Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) and the Indonesia- Malaysia-Thailand Growth Triangle (IMT-GT). This will assist the relevant countries to meet ASEAN-wide targets and commitments.
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