The ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), which is set to be established at the end of this year, will not be the same as the European Union (EU), said Singaporean Foreign Minister Shanmugam.

He said ASEAN member states differ greatly in terms of economic value systems, population, culture and living standards. Yet despite this, the AEC will be a significant economic stimulus and the dynamics of the various member states could complement each other, he added.

Currently, ASEAN is the 7th largest economic bloc in the world with a GDP amounting to 2.4 trillion USD. It is growing at about 5 percent each year and is expected to hit 4 trillion USD by 2020.

Shanmugam added that the AEC will not incorporate free labour movement due to the lack of commonalities for living standards and a common-value based system.

As ASEAN's second-largest trading partner, the EU has a commercial focus in the region and there is potential to form a more strategic partnership in combating cross-regional threats, the FM said.-VNA