The ASEAN was established on 8.8.1967 in Bangkok by five original member nations that include Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand and Singapore: At present, there are 10 members, which also include Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.

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ASEAN’s original purpose was to preserve peace among its member nations and to respond to the communist threat in the region from China. During the first nine years of its existence, ASEAN’s primary focus was political.

The economic cooperation began at the first ASEAN Summit in Bali in 1976, when the Declaration of ASEAN Accord was signed. The ASEAN countries agreed to cooperate in the, supply and purchase of basic commodities, the establishment of preferential trading arrangements, and the stabilization of prices in the region and promotion of export earnings from production of regional commodities.

The ASEAN countries formed the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) in September 1994. The AFTA initially set to function for 10 years in order to develop inter ASEAN trade.

Objectives of AFTA:

•        To remove tariffs on goods produced in the ASEAN Countries.

•        To encourage FDI in the region.

•        To assist member nations during emergencies.

•        To improve social and cultural regions amongst member nations.

•        To promote regional peace and stability.

Achievements/Benefits:

•        Since 1967 ASEAN has signed major political accords that have contributed greatly to peace and stability in the region.

•        The AFTA was launched in 1994 to encourage free trade among member nations, which boosted the growth of inter ASEAN trade.

•        Increase in foreign exchange earnings due to Tourism Development in the region, as the ASEAN countries placed emphasis on the exploitation of tourism potential of the region.

•        Increased job opportunities due to growth of trade and development in the region.

•        Reduction of poverty in the region as a result of social and economic development in the region.

•        Increase in FDI from both within and outside the region which boosted economic development.

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