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WHEN ASEAN Economic Ministers meet in Singapore this week, it will be the 50th such get-together since the group was formed and a striking sign of how important and resilient the regional body has become.
It is also a telling response to the many sceptics who never expected ASEAN to make such progress in its vision for a more integrated and cohesive economy.
When the idea of ASEAN setting up an economic community was first mooted in 2007, observers had their doubts.
Yet fast forward to today and the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) is ranked the sixth-largest economy in the world with a combined GDP of US$2.55 trillion in 2016, and over 600 million consumers. Many see it becoming the fourth-largest single market in the world by 2030 after the European Union, the United States and China.
This growth is largely a result of policies introduced across the region, including trade agreements with external partners, reduced costs for exporters, expanded sources of materials and choices for manufacturers and more streamlined regulations.
And there is more to come, with various new initiatives in the works, particularly in the areas of innovation and e-commerce.
But risks abound, particularly given the trade tensions between the United States and China that reflect the ever-present doubts over globalisation and resurgent nationalistic movements
Technology is also disrupting many businesses although challenges can offer opportunities for growth as well.
This supplement takes a closer look at the key objectives Singapore, the ASEAN Chair 2018, is focusing on as well as some of the companies that have expanded across the region. There are also insights on the growth areas of individual markets while ASEAN permanent representatives discuss how they see the region's prospects.
Brought to you by the Ministry of Trade and Industry, with support from Enterprise Singapore and the Singapore Economic Development Board.
Editor: Lee Su Shyan Copy Editor: Lee U-Wen
Writers: Chia Yan Min, Chin Yong Chang, Annabeth Leow, Vivien Shiao
Cover Design: Simon Ang
Artists: Simon Ang, Ho Yan Hao, Teoh Yi Chie
Sub Editor: Agnes Wee