The establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) by 2015 should be seen as the starting point of a critical journey toward a truly borderless economic community by 2030, said a survey released in Singapore on July 17.

The study, “ASEAN 2030 - Toward a Borderless Economic Community”, was jointly conducted by the Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI) and Singapore’s Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS).

It finds that ASEAN needs an ambitious plan for economic integration beyond the AEC to achieve members’ long-term economic development aspirations - to be resilient, inclusive, competitive and harmonious (RICH) by 2030.

The study suggests that ASEAN economies can enter a high-growth scenario leading to tripling per capita incomes by 2030 and raising quality of life to levels enjoyed by Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries today.

Another scenario, however, leads to a major GDP growth slowdown to no more than 3 percent per year, as countries fall into the middle income trap and are unable to manage natural disasters and climate change, or resolve political tensions.

The four major challenges ASEAN will face in the time ahead are enhancing macroeconomic and financial stability, supporting equitable growth, promoting competitiveness and innovation, and protecting the environment.

Overcoming these challenges and building a borderless economic region by 2030 implies following sound macroeconomic management, promoting inclusive development and “green” growth, eliminating remaining barriers to the flow of goods, services, and production factors, and strengthening the regional institutional framework.

Addressing the launching of the book featuring the study, ASEAN Secretary General Le Luong Minh said that the book will enrich discussions and debates on the AEC, helping ASEAN further refine its economic integration agenda.

He called on the ADBI, the ISEAS and other research institutes and networks in the region to inform discussions on ASEAN’s post-2015 agenda and help the organisation advance integration and community building beyond 2015.-VNA