8 fantastic facts about ASEAN

Illustrative Photo: The Nation

Formed by 10 member states in South East Asia, the 51-year-old Association holds many interesting facts that you might know little about.

Fact#1: Seventh-largest economy in the world

If ASEAN were a single country, it would be the seventh-largest economy in the world according to World Economic Forum (WEF).

With a combined GDP of USD 2.5 trillion, the region is already an economic powerhouse and is set to grow to become the equivalent of the world's fourth-largest economy by 2050.

A man walks past buildings at the central business district of Singapore February 14, 2007. Singapore's trade-reliant economy expanded faster than expected in the fourth quarter on a pick up in domestic activity, data showed on Wednesday, prompting the government to lift its expectations for 2007.

Image: REUTERS/Nicky Loh

By many other measures, the ASEAN region is already a player of global significance.

“Labor-force expansion and productivity improvements drive GDP growth—and ASEAN is making impressive strides in both areas. Home to more than 600 million people, it has a larger population than the European Union or North America. ASEAN has the third-largest labor force in the world, behind China and India; its youthful population is producing a demographic pidend. Perhaps most important, almost 60 percent of total growth since 1990 has come from productivity gains, as sectors such as manufacturing, retail, telecommunications, and transportation grow more efficient.” That’s what McKinsey, the world’s leading management consulting group says about ASEAN.

Whether or not that happens, there is consensus that the region will grow rapidly, both in terms of its economic might and its influence on world trade. Says WEF.

Fact #2: Fourth-largest exporting region in the world (trailing only the European Union, North America and China/Hong Kong)

ASEAN countries account for 7% of global exports, while trade with the United States has risen 62% since 2002

The region is an important consumer of US goods, too. The average ASEAN consumer purchases nearly 1.75 times as many American goods per capita as the average Chinese consumer, and nearly nine times as many as the average Indian consumer.

Fact #3: Number of consumer households expected almost to double by 2025 (says WEF).

ASEAN has dramatically outpaced the rest of the world on growth in GDP per capita since the late 1970s.

8 fantastic facts about ASEAN

Already some 67 million households in ASEAN countries are part of the “consuming class”, with incomes exceeding the level at which they can begin to make significant discretionary purchases. That number could almost double to 125 million households by 2025, making ASEAN a pivotal consumer market of the future.

Fact # 4: Home to hundreds of the world’s largest companies

Back in 2006, ASEAN was home to the headquarters of 49 companies in the Forbes Global 2000. By 2013, that number has risen to 74.

ASEAN now includes 227 of the world's companies with more than $1 billion in revenues. Singapore is a standout, ranking fifth in the world for density of corporate headquarters and first for foreign subsidiaries.

Fact # 5: A culturally perse market

Indonesia is home to the world’s largest Muslim population: almost 90% of the nation’s people belong to the Islamic faith. The Philippines is more than 80% Roman Catholic and Thailand is more than 95% Buddhist. ASEAN is unique in bringing together such perse nations into a single political and economic region.

Fact # 6: Home to one of the world’s top Buddhist monuments

8 fantastic facts about ASEAN

That Luang stupa was built to house the bones of Lord Buddha, but the original structure was renovated when the Lao capital moved from Luang Prabang to Vientiane in 1560. PHOTOS: PHOONSAB THEVONGSA

Originally built in the third century at the same time Vientiane (Laos) was established, That Luang stupa is the symbol of Laos.

It was built to house the bones of Lord Buddha, but the original structure was renovated on the orders of King Saysetthathirath when he moved the Lao capital from Luang Prabang to Vientiane in 1560. The stupa is one of the world's must-see Buddhist monuments.

Fact # 7: An awesome eco-perse region

Although the region occupies only 3% of the world’s total surface, 20% of all known species live deep in its mountains, jungles, rivers, lakes and seas

The region also contains seven of the world’s 25 recognized biopersity hotspots – biologically rich areas under greatest threat of destruction.

In ASEAN, you can find the world’s biggest flower at Gunung Gading, Mount Kinabalu, Malaysia. The mountain, named after the legendary Princess Gading (a guardian of three mountain peaks), is touted as one of the best places in the region to see a Rafflesia in bloom. It is said to be the largest and most beautiful flower in the world. Home to a range of wildlife, the park has three nature trails.

ASEAN is also home to many well-known world-heritage tourism destination, including Ha Long Bay of Vietnam.

Fact # 8: Home to the world’s youngest app developer

8 fantastic facts about ASEAN

Mr Lim Ding Wen posing with his laptop, and showing a game he was developing in 2016. ST PHOTO: DIOS VINCOY JR

The world's youngest app developer, Lim Ding Wen, from Singapore, created his first app at nine in 2009.

It is a drawing app named Doodle Kids. Working from an Apple IIGS computer, he wrote it in a few days, before porting it for the iPhone and releasing it for free on the App Store. He is now an aspiring game developer with more than 20 apps under his belt./.

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