This is particularly relevant because while the Asean Secretariat insists that most countries have achieved around 80 percent of their implementation goals for the community, analysts noted that some countries are still not ready for the changes the Asean community will bring, particularly for a planned economic liberalization that would reduce trade barriers.
The CLMV countries -- Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam -- that joined the bloc in the 1990s, risked being adversely affected for lack of preparedness and the comparative smallness of their economies when compared with other members such as Singapore and Indonesia. As such the focus on SMEs is especially important to achieve sustainable and inclusive growth within the bloc. Promotion of disaster preparedness, humanitarian assistance and a balanced approach in expansion of relations with the regional bloc's dialogue partners were also priorities in the Asean community Post-2015 Vision as outlined by the Myanmar president. Meanwhile, Asean Secretary-General Le Luong Minh defended the organization's integration goal to be a European Union-like bloc by December 2015.
Minh also pointed out the original deadline by Asean leaders had been 2020 but the bloc achieved significant goals even after the deadline had been fast tracked to 2015. "Up to now we have implemented 80 percent of all the measures of Asean community. So if you look at the fact that we really started the process of implementing all these measures only in 2009 and after that in less than six years of implementation we have accomplished the majority of the blueprints." "We have one year and a half or actually two years because what has been implemented since the beginning of 2014 has not been counted. So overall I think we are on track and I'm confident by December 2015 integration deadline will be met," Minh added. (IANS)