The Latest: Southeast Asia launches economic community
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Ten Southeast Asian heads of state and nine world leaders, including President Barack Obama, are meeting in Malaysia to discuss trade and economic issues. Terrorism and disputes over the South China Sea are also on the agenda. (All times local.)
The leaders of 10 Southeast Asian nations have formally created the ASEAN Economic Community at a summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Eight years in the making, the AEC, as it is known, seeks to make the diverse region economically and politically better integrated with hopes of competing with the Asian powerhouses China and India.
Still, there is a long way to go before the AEC becomes fully functional after becoming a legal entity on Dec. 31. It falls short in more politically sensitive areas such as opening up agriculture, steel, auto production and other protected sectors.
There are also other hurdles, such as corruption, uneven infrastructure and unequal costs of transportation and shipping.