ASEAN is considered one of the most successful economic regions, because it managed to dismantle many of the tariff barriers among the ten member states. Its more ambitious goal, however—of becoming not only a single trade area, but also a single production base by the year 2015—appears elusive. The investment liberalization goals stipulated in the ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint, a roadmap for regional economic integration, is meek, indicating unwillingness of member states to open up their cosseted and, at times, lucrative, service sectors. Moreover, current commitments of member states do not even match up with such goals. To be able to establish a regional production base, member states will have to stand up against local interest groups that benefit from the status quo, be they large domestic state and private companies operating in key service sectors such as telecommunications, energy and finance, or professional councils or professional associations that would like to reserve jobs exclusively for their members. If not, the region will certainly gradually but surely lose its economic flair.

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