Southeast Asia Current Affairs

Scientists discover 163 new species in ecologically diverse Greater Mekong region

Scientists have discovered as many as 163 new species in the ecologically diverse Greater Mekong region of the Southeast Asia. It includes 3 mammals species, 9 amphibians, 11 fish, 14 reptiles and 143 plants. 

These species were discovered in Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar and Thailand. It was revealed by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) report.

Key Facts
  • The new species include lizard with dragon-like horns Acanthosaura phuketensis. It was discovered at the Thai tourist island of Phuket.
  • New frog species Leptolalax isos which can fit on a fingertip was discovered in Cambodia and Vietnam.
  • It also includes eye-catching Parafimbrios lao, a snake with rainbow-like scale colours around its head. It was found in the limestone karsts region of northern Laos.
  • A new newt species Tylototriton anguliceps with dazzling red and black markings was also discovered.

About Greater Mekong region

  • The Greater Mekong region is one of the most diverse regions and biodiversity hotspot on the planet. It is a magnet for the world’s conservation because of the incredible diversity of species.
  • It includes southwestern China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Myanmar. Mekong river helps this diverse region to sustain.
  • The region has a diverse geographic landscape including massifs, plateaus, and limestone karsts, lowlands, deltas, fertile floodplains, forests and grasslands.
  • It is habitats for an estimated 20,000 plant species, 1,300 fish species, 1,200 bird species, 800 reptile and amphibian species and 430 mammal species.
  • However, it is under intense pressure from dam and road building as well as a thriving illegal wildlife trade and climate change.

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ASEAN leaders sign declaration for launching ASEAN Economic Community

Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) leaders have signed a declaration for launching ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) which would be similar to European Union (EU)-style regional economic bloc.

In this regard, Kuala Lumpur declaration on the establishment of the AEC was signed by the leaders of 10-nation grouping chaired by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak at its 27th Summit held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

It was signed in front of world leaders including Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

About ASEAN Economic Community

  • AEC would make ASEAN a single market with a free flow of goods, capital and skilled labour in the region.
  • Integrate Southeast Asia’s diverse 10 economies which has combine population of 620 million people and a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of 2.4 trillion US dollars.
  • Abolish tariffs on imports within the bloc member countries and promote the liberalization of service industries such as retailing and tourism.
  • Calls for more free movement of and skilled labour within the region including of doctors, architects and others with special skills.
  • Focus on creating an integrated and well-connected economy of ASEAN member countries which would be business-friendly, trade-facilitative and market-driven.
  • The new economic bloc will be launched in December 2015 and would make ASEAN’s growing GDP, 4th-biggest in the world.

ASEAN 2025 declaration

Apart from this AEC, ASEAN leaders also adopted the declaration on “ASEAN 2025, forging ahead together”. The ASEAN 2025 document charts the path for building AEC over the next 10 years.

The declaration calls for ASEAN members to work towards building a community that is politically cohesive, economically integrated and socially responsible. ASEAN 2025 declaration calls to work with external partners to strengthen cooperation in combating non-traditional security challenges like terrorism, human trafficking, drug related crimes and maritime issues through various initiatives and projects.

About Association of South East Asian Nations

  • ASEAN is a group of 10 South Asian nations which was brought into existence on August 8, 1967 after ASEAN declaration (also known as Bangkok declaration).
  • Motto: “One Vision, One Identity, One Community”
  • 10 Members: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
  • Founder countries of ASEAN were: Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Philippines and Thailand
  • Enlargement: The group was expanded by adding 5 more nations which are Brunei Darussalam, Lao PDR, Cambodia, Myanmar and Vietnam. Cambodia was the latest entry in the group in 1999.

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