Established in late 2015, the ASEAN Economic Community aspires to implement economic and financial integration across member nations. Still, many have wondered whether the region would be better off taking a page from the European Union and embracing a monetary union as well.
"I don't think we need to go so far to have a common union but if we can make borders become connection points in a way so that everybody benefits, you can exist within a trading bloc and not necessarily an EU model," said General Electric Vice Chairman John Rice.
Rather than uniting ASEAN with a single currency, a level playing field boasting free flow of human and financial capital would be more beneficial, Rice continued. "Countries must concentrate on fictional points, the things under the surface in terms of getting permits, approvals and moving goods from one place to the next. Those frictional costs are insidious when it comes to the cost of trade."
There are several lessons ASEAN can learn from the European model, particularly amid current anti-globalization sentiment, added Grete Faremo, under-secretary-general and executive director at the United Nations Office for Project Services.
"It's all about inclusion and leaving no one behind…. What rules of engagement do we have to secure equal opportunities for all?"