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ASEAN Can’t Leave Unskilled Migrants Out of Integration – World Bank

ASEAN needs to appreciate its healthy levels of intra-regional migration as an asset instead of a liability, this new World Bank report argues. Likewise, it says that recognizing and institutionalizing the rights and social protection of migrant workers – undocumented included – will deepen the benefits the region can reap from economic integration. Johanna Son reports for the Reporting ASEAN series.

VIETNAM: Idea of an ASEAN Community Taking Root

Despite bureaucratic obstacles and what some call the ASEAN Community’s slow progress, the idea of ASEAN as a single unit – a linked set of peoples and societies and a market – is slowly gaining ground in Vietnam. Read more in this report by Le Trieu for the Reporting ASEAN series.

Why Indonesians Haven’t Taken Advantage of ASEAN’s Work-abroad Opportunity

The ASEAN Economic Community is supposed to make it easier for ASEAN nationals to live and work in one another’s countries. But many Indonesians don’t know about the Mutual Recognition Arrangements designed to ease the movement of skilled labor  – or understand them correctly. The result? Fear and misperception, explains Ursula Florene of Rappler Indonesia in her article for the Reporting ASEAN programme.

 

(Still) in Search of a Genuine ASEAN Community

The ASEAN Community is hard enough to sell to the ASEAN-6 member countries that are already on board. But it’s even more of an uphill climb when it comes to the newer member states, the CLMV countries (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam), due to three hindrances: lack of awareness, little enthusiasm by a weak private sector, and the public sector’s limited capacity to lead and manage regional cooperation activities. Economist Myo Thant explains why in this commentary for the Reporting ASEAN series.

 

Whose Healthy ASEAN Community?

In health, ‪#‎ASEAN‬ integration comes across as a double-edged sword. What could the cure by to the illness of approaching health more as a commercial rather than a social good? Rosalia Sciortino of Mahidol and Chulalongkorn universities delves into this in her commentary for the ‘Reporting ASEAN: 2015 and Beyond’ series.

CAMBODIA: Taking the Fishiness Out of A Favourite Food

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.

CAMBODIA: The Root of the Problem

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.

How Do MNCs See the ASEAN Economic Community?

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.

THAILAND AND BURMA: Set Sights on Boosting Bilateral Trade

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.

BURMA: Illegal Timber Trade Still Bedevils in ‘Balding’ Burma

Deforestation is a key concern in Myanmar, where total forest cover has reduced by a third in the last 15 years. The thriving illegal timber trade is to blame, explains Kyaw Hsu Mon of ‘The Irrawaddy’ in her story for the ‘Making AEC Work’ series, ‘Reporting ASEAN:2015 and Beyond’ programme.

Finding A New Path for Vietnam’s Exports

With the establishment of the ASEAN Economy Community, Vietnamese exports stand to gain from the elimination of tariffs. But free trade also means the country will need to ensure its products remain attractive amid fiercer competition. Thi Huong of Vietnam Economic News looks at how the textile and agriculture industries plan to tackle this challenge in her story for the ‘Reporting ASEAN’ media fellowship programme.

Fragmentation Impeding Success of Asean Exchanges

The target of creating a fully integrated ASEAN stock market remains elusive with 10 very fragmented and diverse markets in the region. More support from individual countries is urgently required for the realisation of a borderless capital market. Chan Yi Wen of the Business Times explains the slow pace of financial integration in her story for the ‘Reporting ASEAN’ media fellowship programme.

Including Low-skilled Workers into ASEAN’s Labour Framework

Intra-ASEAN labour migration has increased fourfold since 1990 to 6.5 million in 2013. The majority consists of semi-skilled and unskilled workers, but they are little seen in ASEAN’s integration plans. What safeguards have ASEAN put in place to protect them? Not much, as Saifulbahri Ismail of Channel NewsAsia finds out in his story for the ‘Reporting ASEAN’ media fellowship programme.

How Will MRAs Affect the Mobility of Professionals?

The freer flow of professional talent across the region is one of the key goals of the ASEAN Economic Community. But can the increased mobility of selected professionals actually be achieved? Saifulbahri Ismail of Channel NewsAsia looks into the challenges of liberalising jobs in his story for the ‘Reporting ASEAN’ media fellowship programme.

ASEAN’s Highly Skilled Health Workers

The ASEAN Economic Community envisions freer movement of labour across borders. With the lure of more opportunities and higher wages, could this lead to a brain drain in Vietnam? Le Hang Phan Thi of Vietnam News Agency looks at the push and pull factors for doctors in her story for the ‘Reporting ASEAN’ media fellowship programme.

ASEAN Economic Integration Faces Tough Road Ahead

With a year to go before the ASEAN Economic Community is launched, challenges remain in the creation of a single market and production base with free movement of labour, goods and capital. Albert Wai of TODAY looks at what’s needed to make regional economic integration a reality in his story for the ‘Reporting ASEAN’ media fellowship programme.

Nothing Less Than International Standards

Sixty-three human rights groups in South-east Asia have issued an open letter to the 45th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, expressing their call that the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration “will not be lower than international human rights norms and standards”. The draft declaration, the subject of criticism by rights groups who say it is too weak, is set to be adopted at the ASEAN summit in November 2012. The text of the open letter follows.

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