The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a regional intergovernmental organization. It has been seen as a way to promote political, economic, social, and cultural cooperation across the region. It was established in August 1967 with the signing of the ASEAN declaration by Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, and Singapore. The original agreement was negotiated by foreign ministers in an isolated beach south of Bangkok using what was later called “sports-shirt diplomacy.”
The future of individual nations in Southeast Asia, including Philippines, truly depends upon their ability to work together for the common good. In fact, a successful and united ASEAN has concrete effects on us and our lives. These ten Southeast Asian countries (Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, Singapore, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam) want to improve the lives of their citizens.
The Philippine government believes that the SEAN has become much more important organization in terms of its influence in the region. Now, what is the significance of ASEAN integration in the Philippines? Consider the following significance I listed below.
• Build peaceful neighborhood.
Philippines need to build a peaceful neighborhoos in order to grow economically, culturally, socially, and politically. In most human relations, there will always be tensions, conflicts, and differences among nations. But the important thing here is to develop predisposition to peaceful means of settling disputes. The ten members of ASEAN have the power to shape and help nations find common solutions to problems, and even define common security threats. Positive interactions and friendship among these ASEAN members could direct strengths and resources to community.
• Lower cost of living.
ASEAN economic community seeks to minimize taxes incurred between countries, which will allow prices of goods to depreciate. Thus, your salary wil get you much farther as products become cheaper and you will be able to afford more food or goods.
• Easier for service providers to cross borders.
One of the modes of trade in services to ASEAN nations is to provide easier travel to cross borders. Some of the priorities are improving air travel and tourism, which means it will continue to be cheaper and easier for citizens in the region to fly to other countries.
• Better jobs and quality life.
ASEAN helps service providers across the region to establish companies across borders. For citizens, this means easier access to travel or medical care that would increase the standard of living. Foreign investments will also increase by removing restrictions and adopting international best practices. Thus, this will enhance job opportunities for ASEAN citizens and a better quality life.
• Free flow of skilled labor to work abroad.
Another goal of ASEAN is to facilitate the free flow of skilled labor to work abroad. It is planning to facilitate visas and employment passes for professional and skilled labor which aside from increasing productivity, it will benefit individuals with new job opportunities.
The opportunities to live overseas are not just limited to workers; even students may have the chance to study abroad. These young people who’ll experience going abroad and make friends with different nationalities will hopefully make the next generation a lot more open-minded and stronger.
• People-centered ASEAN
Creation of more opportunities for work, travel, business and studies would be important vehicles for greater people-to-people interactions and understanding. These are definitely more sustainable endeavors than junket travels.
Regional humanitarian assistance in times of extreme emergencies and large-scale natural disasters is an excellent field where ASEAN cooperation could have a human face. First responders should wear an ASEAN badge.
• Global economic interdependence.
Global economic interdependence shares not only benefits, but also risks, such as the current contraction of external demand caused by debt crisis, fiscal problems in some developed economies, tighter global financing conditions, higher oil prices, and volatile global capital flows.
• Better Philippines.
The free flow of goods, services, investment, capital and skilled labor could only mean a better country. The Philippines, and the other Southeast Asian nations, will be able to achieve their goals quicker, and enjoy more success, through cooperation.
These are the ties that actually bind us beyond pieces of paper and sign treaties. It is people who will build ASEAN. The government also needs to be innovative in taking a hold of the opportunities of the ASEAN economic integration to have a better nation.