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Despite differences, ASEAN can expand its collective potentialCan 10 countries with different cultures, traditions, languages, political systems and levels of economic development act in concert to expand their collective potential? That is the question with which the Association of Southeast Asian Nations has been wrestling for decades. Once in place, the so-called ASEAN economic community (AEC) will transform Southeast Asia – and its role in the global economy.The McKinsey Global Institute estimates that, by implementing this integration strategy fully and capturing a larger share of global manufacturing, the ASEAN countries could gain $280-625 billion in annual GDP by 2030 .ASEAN's quest to become a unified market is far from complete. While average tariff rates in the original five member states (Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand) have been virtually zero since 2010, some barriers must still be dismantled. Excluding Singapore and Brunei, average labor productivity in ASEAN remains about 40 percent lower than in China.ASEAN, unlike the European Union, is not attempting to form a monetary union.
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