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R. Ian McEwin, Aug 24, 2015
Southeast Asia is a region of considerable ethnic differences, levels of economic development, regime types (although all are authoritarian), state administrative capacity, and general institutional development. Despite these considerable differences, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (“ASEAN”) in December 1997 adopted a Vision 2020 that envisaged “a stable, prosperous and highly competitive ASEAN economic region in which there is a free flow of goods, services investment and freer flow of capital, equitable economic development and reduced poverty and socioeconomic disparities.” In 2003, ASEAN leaders signed the Declaration of ASEAN Concord II aimed at developing an ASEAN Economic Community by 2020—brought forward to 2015 at the 12th ASEAN Summit in the Philippines.
In November 2007, at the 13th ASEAN Summit in Singapore, ASEAN Governments signed the ASEAN Charter, which outlined ASEAN Member States commitments to economic integration. A Blueprint was laid out to accelerate the economic integration. As part of its goal of achieving a “highly competitive economic region” the Blueprint included commitments to develop a competition policy (as well as other goals such as strengthening consumer protection, regional co-operation in intellectual property rights, co-operation in infrastructure development, etc.).
In a major change of direction, the Singapore Summit also committed to moving away from a soft-law approach of political commitments towards an “adherence to rules-based systems for effective compliance and implementation of economic commitments.