Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum Klaus Martin Schwab said that the world is witnessing strong economic and social growth in the ASEAN region. However, he stressed that the leaders of the region should enhance political stability in order to build a more just economy. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) believes that total gross domestic product (GDP) of the ASEAN region will reach USD $2.96 trillion next year.

Gross Domestic Product ASEAN Countries (USD billion):

 Country       GDP 2013
      GDP 2012
 Indonesia          870.3          877.8
 Thailand          387.2          366.0
 Malaysia          312.4          304.7
 Singapore          294.7          284.3
 Philippines          272.0          250.2
 Vietnam          170.6          155.6

Source: International Monetary Fund (IMF)

Meanwhile, Indonesian Finance Minister Chatib Basri said that political stability is the main priority of ASEAN countries. He added that the region possesses great economic strength due to the 600 million population, rising consumption, and the presence of abundant natural resources. If political stability can be improved then Southeast Asia can be an engine of global economic growth. "First political stability should be improved, then we can focus on infrastructure development," Basri said. Factors that jeopardize political stability include the tensions in the South China Sea and Thailand. These issues cause concerns among investors about stability in the whole region.

Speakers at the forum also confirmed that East Asia has been the engine of global economic growth after the outbreak of the global crisis in 2008.

The ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) has the following key characteristics:

a single market and production base
a highly competitive economic region
a region of equitable economic development
a region fully integrated into the global economy

The AEC is scheduled to launch in late 2015. ASEAN comprises Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Click here for the ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint