The Quest of Sustainable Development in the ASEAN Investment Area
The Inaugural Asian Conference on the Social Sciences and Sustainability, Hiroshima, Japan 1-3 December 2014
9 Pages Posted: 29 Mar 2015
Date Written: December 15, 2014
The ultimate goal of ASEAN integration is economic development of the region and ASEAN Member States. The ASEAN Comprehensive Investment Agreement (ACIA), one of the instruments realising the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015, deals with the protection and liberalisation of the intra-ASEAN investment flows, and so far, has answered the core objectives of the 2015 ASEAN Economic Community, as single market and production base and highly competitive economic region. In creating a conducive investment environment, it assures that the investors will be granted privileges and protection in a substantial way, such as rights to compensated expropriation, to free transfers of funds, and even to arbitration. So ASEAN may expect numbers of mega investment projects. However, these investment flows will bring not only prosperity but also negative effects, because the ACIA does not set as condition for the investors to invest in a sustainable way. Here is a two-fold question regarding “a region of equitable economic development” objective. For the direct beneficiaries, given the economic diversity, can the ACIA be beneficial, in an inclusive way, by levelling the playing field for different groups of investors? For the indirect beneficiaries, or the society, shall the ASEAN investors take into account the issues of human, heritage, public health or environment? The contribution will look at the ACIA whether it contains any mechanisms addressing social and economic equity, labours or environment for the purpose of sustainable development, and will try to suggest how to integrate these sustainable development elements.
Keywords: ASEAN Comprehensive Investment Agreement, Sustainable Development, Economic Integration
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