ASEAN 2015 not to follow EU but to create South East Asian synergies

The economic integration plans the 10-member Association of South East Asian Nations intends to implementy by 2015 do not include fully free labor flow or a unified currency.

"The European model is not our model, it is only our inspiration," ASEAN Secretary-General, Surin Pitsuwan, told The Wall Street Journal. "We are looking at the European Union knowing we are not going to travel that road."

Economic integration is difficult "because of the diversity in the economic and the financial areas as well as governance, historical, linguistic, culture and religion," said Mr Surin. "We want something that would accommodate the differences among us while creating synergies."

"We want to make sure our institutions, our standards and our procedures in customs, immigration and quality restrictions will work together to allow more trade, more investment and more exchange," he said. "We can't allow the free movement of people like in Europe because there would lead to a lot of problems with economic migrants."

He also noted that some international companies are already planning to tap the new market that will be created as more barriers come down.

"Many multinational corporations are now setting up ASEAN departments and offices for ASEAN, getting ready to take advantage of the landscape that we have created," Mr Surin said.