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The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is an economic group comprised of the countries of Southeast Asia. ASEAN and Asia Pacific has been the most dynamic and fastest growing region in the world, but the 1997 Asian crisis sent the ‘Asian Tigers’ into turmoil. The rise and fall of Asia clearly reflects both the interdependence of the East Asian countries and the world economy, on the one hand, and the impact of the changing global legal and economic environment on these countries, on the other hand. The ASEAN countries have gone through a volatile period and in response have embarked on a process of deeper integration to strengthen their regional economic self-reliance while committing themselves to an open market orientation. A new direction for ASEAN, dubbed ‘Open Regionalism’, will balance regional integration and global liberalization. The ASEAN countries need to develop their sustainable regional market to replace the current separate national ASEAN markets, and to do so need to regionalise ASEAN laws and regulations, especially those relating to trade and investment, in order to facilitate the free flow of goods, capital, services and labour. A more liberalised trade and investment regime in ASEAN will enhance their free economies and create a more favourable trade and investment climate in the region.
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