The membership has expanded to ten countries that include Laos, Burma, Cambodia, Brunei and Vietnam. East Asia had experienced decades of internal conflicts and economic depression, but the formation of ASEAN enabled sub-regional cooperation and trade liberalization (Borthwick 71). The main three pillars include economic growth and cooperation, social progress, and political-security. The model of security and stability in the region attained high success and ASEAN started playing a major security role in even beyond Southeast Asia. The security matters in Southeast Asian countries encompass various political, economic, social, cultural and military dimensions and ASEAN has utilized regional cooperation in order to further peaceful external environment and allow the member states to concentrate on their domestic development priorities (Borthwick 29). ASEAN was a focus of rivalry and competition between the US and Soviet Union, but ASEAN preferred regional solutions by declaring the region as a Zone of Peace, Freedom and Neutrality in 1995 (Holcombe 241).
ASEAN rise to greater importance in East Asia affairs has been facilitated by the ASEAN Free Trade Area that aims at enhancing the competitive advantage of local manufacturing. The region has signed free trade agreements with China, Japan, Australia and India that aim boosting economic growth in the community. The free trade agreements have led to consistent growth in member states GDP by between 4 percent to 7 percent since the end of Cold War. The region has benefited from technology transfer and e-commerce evolution since member states like Malaysia and Singapore account for more than 50 percent of e-commerce transactions in the entire region (Borthwick 81). The economic community is committed to equitable economic development and integration with the global economy as demonstrated by the consistent reduction in import duties (Borthwick 112).
ASEAN member states