Illustrative image (Source: VNA)
Hanoi (VNA) – November 22, 2015 has been engraved in the history of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as it witnessed the signing of the Kuala Lumpur Declaration on the Establishment of the ASEAN Community, ushering in a new period for the 10-nation group.

The declaration, which was signed during the 27th ASEAN Summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, is an important document aiming to promote the bloc’s economic, political, cultural and social integration in both depth and width.

The signing demonstrates the completion of the 10-year plan on building the community, since the initiative on an ASEAN Community was sprouted after the ASEAN Summit in Bali, Indonesia in 2003.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is also the ASEAN Chair for 2015, announced at the 27th summit that the ASEAN Community will take shape on December 31.

Formed on the three pillars of politics-security, economics and culture-society, the ASEAN Community is expected to become a community of political and economic connectivity and social responsibility-sharing, with people at the centre.

ASEAN has grown into a big family with a population of 630 million. It is even larger than that of the EU and North America.

The birth of the ASEAN Community mirrors the extraordinary endeavours of all member countries with the aim of growing closer to each other through enhanced economic integration and elevated social positions, while ensuring safety and stability in the region.

Entering the new period, ASEAN is seeking ways to create a shared market and production base with free circulation of goods and services.

To realise the target, it is necessary to have common standards for products, promote economic links and lift trade barriers.

ASEAN has becomes the world’s seventh largest economy with a total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) valued at about 2.4 trillion USD.

The figure is projected to hit 4.7 trillion USD in 2020, said Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, noting that the bloc is expected to claim the fourth place worldwide in 2030.

The Prime Minister pointed out that apart from the economic sphere, the ASEAN Community also reflects the special relationship between ASEAN citizens, making them feel that the ASEAN spirit runs in their blood.

Many more jobs will be created when the ASEAN Community takes shape.

Therefore, the Kuala Lumpur Declaration on the ASEAN Vision 2025, the Master Plan on ASEAN Political - Security Community and the Master Plan in ASEAN Cultural-Social Community, which are included in the Declaration on “ASEAN 2025: Forging Ahead Together” approved by the ASEAN leaders at the 27 th summit, chart a roadmap for the group to advance forward over the next 10 years.

The declaration makes ASEAN’s goals of consolidating and developing a stronger region with intensive and extensive integration and closer connectivity very clear.

It also reiterated the goals and principles stated in the ASEAN Charter, which reflect the group’s aspirations for peace, security, long-term stability, sustainable economic growth, social progress and prosperity.

The Malaysian Prime Minister said at the closing ceremony of the summit that the signing of the two historic declarations proves that ASEAN member countries are now ready to embark on a new journey to build the ASEAN Community based on the three pillars.

Assuming the ASEAN Chair in 2016, Lao Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong said his country pledged to promote cooperation, gearing up for an ASEAN Community built on dynamism and prosperity.-VNA