Backgrounder: The Association of Southeast Asian Nations

SINGAPORE, Nov. 11 (Xinhua) — Heads of state and government of the 10 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) gathered here on Nov. 11-15 for their 33rd summit and related meetings, under the theme “Resilient and Innovative.”

ASEAN, a regional bloc comprising 10 Southeast Asian nations, aims to promote intergovernmental cooperation and facilitate economic integration among its members.

It was established in August 1967 by Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. The group later expanded to include Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.

ASEAN population in 2017 reached 642 million, accounting for 8.5 percent of the world’s total. In 2017, the region recorded a combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 2.77 trillion U.S. dollars, accounting for 3.5 percent of world GDP, according to Statistics Singapore.

ASEAN celebrated its 50-years anniversary in 2017. Integration is gaining momentum in recent years as the regional bloc announced the establishment of the ASEAN Community in December 2015.

The ASEAN Community has three pillars: the Political-Security Community, Economic Community and the Socio-Cultural Community.

At its 28th and 29th summits held in Vientiane in September 2016, the leaders adopted the Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI) Work Plan III and the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity (MPAC) 2025, an integral part of the ASEAN 2025: Forging Ahead Together, in a bid to advance the ASEAN community building process.

The highest decision-making body of ASEAN is the summit meeting of the ASEAN heads of state and government. The ASEAN summit is convened every year and Singapore is this year’s chair. According to the ASEAN Charter, the chairmanship of ASEAN rotates annually among the member states.

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