Two ASEAN member states stress ASEAN centrality – precious to the regional organisation – amid tensions in the swirling waters of the South China Sea. The region’s solidarity, unity and centrality are “fundamental as they are vital” in resolving issues related to the disputed body of water, the Philippines and Singapore said in this ‘Straits Times’ article by Raul Dancel.
It’s been 10 years since civil society groups in ASEAN started having annual interactions with ASEAN leaders, including face-to-face meetings at summits. But beyond making headlines, how effective have these been in influencing ASEAN’s work or its members’ policies? Mia Gomez and Johanna Son attend a meeting ahead of the 2016 ASEAN People’s Forum to find out in this story for the ‘Reporting ASEAN: 2015 and Beyond’ series.
If Thailand were to regress from a democracy to the military-authoritarian rule of before, it would not look out of place in Southeast Asia’s mixed neighbourhood of absolutism, communism, and competitive authoritarianism. But the region is changing, leaving Thailand as the laggard, argues Thitinan Pongsudhirak in this ‘Bangkok Post’ article.
Government officials and farmers’ groups from seven ASEAN countries went on a rare study tour together in Thailand to learn more about cooperatives in the country and also to get to know one another better. Mia Gomez looks at the effort to increase dialogue between farmers and ASEAN sectoral bodies in this story for the ‘Reporting ASEAN: 2015 and Beyond’ series.
ASEAN Secretary-General Le Luong Minh, seen as low-profile compared to his Thai predecessor, has been underrated for achievements such as strengthening the secretariat, getting the European Union to open a mission to ASEAN, and telling China its behaviour in the South China Sea has eroded ASEAN-China links, says this article in SEA Globe.
Indonesian has become a popular language to learn among Thais. This is a gateway to deepening intra-ASEAN linkages, a key building block for the socio-cultural pillar of the ASEAN Community. Sathapat Phaethong (@Sathapat_P) of ‘Sawasdee ASEAN’ programme reports from Bangkok and Jakarta in this TV report for the ‘Reporting ASEAN 2015 and Beyond’ media programme.
The Philippines will be ASEAN chair when ASEAN turns 50 next year. Yet in this report by Daniel Abunales and Jake Soriano of ‘Verafiles’ for the ‘Reporting ASEAN’ media fellowship programme, listen to Filipinos say of ASEAN: “I don’t know.” “It includes the US.”
Southeast Asia’s waters are boiling with politics, tussles involving fishing boats, South China Sea disputes and dam issues in the Mekong – on top of the steaming-hot weather these days. Thitinan Pongsudhirak analyses China’s conduct in the region in this commentary in the ‘Bangkok Post’.
Industry standards have been drawn up for prahok, the Khmer fermented fish paste, as the Cambodian government seeks to protect consumers and boost exports. Cheng Sokhorng of The Phnom Penh Post takes a look at what this means for producers and customers in her story for the ‘Making AEC Work’ series, ‘Reporting ASEAN:2015 and Beyond’ programme.
Exporting cassava to Thailand has never been tougher for Cambodian farmers, who say Thai authorities are erecting non-tariff barriers as a protectionist measure. Does the ASEAN Economic Community’s vision of free trade work in reality? Sor Chandara of the ‘Phnom Penh Post’ reports for the ‘Making AEC Work’ series, ‘Reporting ASEAN:2015 and Beyond’ programme.
With the freer movement of labour, capital, investment and goods across Southeast Asia, multinational corporations (MNCs) look set to benefit from deeper economic integration under the ASEAN Economic Community. Industry leaders weigh in with their expectations of what the AEC means for their organisations and ideas on how to speed up the integration process in this article from ASEAN UP.
Giving back to the community. Being an inclusive business. A business that makes partners out of its suppliers and the communities around it. These are some of the ways Philippine businesses define corporate social responsibility (CSR), a habit that is acquiring more relevance against the backdrop of ASEAN integration.
Separated from mainland South-east by vast oceans, the Philippines is often seen as more interested in the West than in its own neighbours. Will the ASEAN mindset grow in the Filipino psyche now that the ASEAN Community has been launched?
Indonesia controls – through reference pricing – the imports of products like shallots. It’s meant to protect local producers, but there often isn’t enough supply and consumers find the prices of this basic kitchen spice high. What’s the balance between a barrier to trade and a protection tool for domestic interests? Kanis Dursin reports for the ‘Making AEC Work’ series, part of the ‘Reporting ASEAN: 2015 and Beyond’ media programme.
The third largest producer of palm oil in the world, Thailand is facing domestic and international challenges in its management of the prized crop. Although oversupply, high costs and lack of competitiveness in terms of pricing are ongoing concerns, the country is adamant about protecting the sector, as Kornchanok Raksaseri of ‘Econ News’ finds out in this ‘Making AEC Work’ story, part of the ‘Reporting ASEAN:2015 and Beyond’ programme.
Boosting bilateral trade volumes to reach $10-12 billion in 2017 will be a key concern for Thailand and Myanmar. To achieve the target, the two neighbours will need to combat smuggling and ease certain restrictions, explains Kyaw Hsu Mon of ‘The Irrawaddy’ in her story for the ‘Making AEC Work’ series, ‘Reporting ASEAN:2015 and Beyond’ programme.