Southeast Asia Current Affairs - 2019

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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.

NASA’s SERVIR-Mekong project to help monitor environment in Southeast Asia

NASA and US Agency for International Development (USAID) have started the SERVIR-Mekong project, to strengthen the environmental monitoring in Southeast Asia region.

It has been launched in the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center in Bangkok, Thailand to serve the 5 countries of the Mekong River Basin viz. Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.

Key facts

  • The focus of this project is to host vital issues in the Mekong river basin region in the five countries which is often called as rice bowl of Asia.
  • It will enable these countries better address issues of natural resource and disaster management and support climate resilience studies including reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
  • The project will help these Governments incorporate Earth observations and geospatial technologies in improving management of water and natural resources.
  • Provide early warning of dramatic changes in regional water, weather, land cover and land use and climate and food security.

About SERVIR project

It was initiated in 2005 by researchers at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Centre in Alabama. It name SERVIR is has been derived from Spanish which means to serve.

It has been developed by an alliance of more than 90 nations and organisations which are collaborating to build a global Earth-observing system to benefit society’s needs.