What SAARC can learn from ASEAN

ASEAN is a good example for Saarc, particularly for India and Pakistan, to realise the value of cooperation and benefits resulting from a larger common market despite diversity in politics and religion.

How?

ASEAN, the most successful organization of the developing world was founded in 1967 by the nations of Southeast Asia.  Its aims include accelerating economic growth, social progress, protection of regional peace and stability, and opportunities for member countries to discuss differences peacefully.

ASEAN has focused to achieve three pillars of regional cooperation which are security, socio-cultural integration and economic integration. It is due to productive and prudent policies of ASEAN that the southeast region is enjoying peace and regional security which is unlikely in the developing world.

SAARC

SAARC is the regional organization of South Asian countries founded in 1985.  Main objectives of SAARC are to promote and strengthen collective self-reliance, to develop mutual interest, to promote economic collaboration and to strengthen ties with other developing countries.

Issues

  • SAARC has failed to achieve its goals on both economic and political fronts. SAARC is the least economic integrated region of the world as intraregional trade is merely 4% of the total trade of the region while that of EU and ASEAN is 50% and 26% respectively.
  • On the other hand the South Asian region is suffering from the grave issues of security, regional mistrust and instability. SAARC has  failed to create a common identity of the region like ASEAN.
  • Moreover the people to people contact is the lowest in SAARC countries when compared to other regional associations.

Solution

  • SAARC cannot progress economically without resolving its political issues. So the first step towards the prosperity and regional development is to be peace on the region.
  • In this regard SAARC can learn remarkable lessons from the other regional association like ASEAN and European Union. There is very little common between the SAARC and EU countries. So there is very little to learn for SAARC from the experiences of the EU. On the other hand there are lot of similarities between ASEAN and SAARC.
  • In SAARC India is in a hegemonic position as it has 72 percent of the region’s area, 75 percent of the region’s population and 76 percent of the total exports of the region
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