Southeast Asian nations have officially launched a huge economic bloc, called the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), as part of their efforts to deepen trade and investment links across the region.
US President Donald Trump had suggested he would skip a meeting of 10 southeast Asian countries that include key US allies. The White House now says he will attend after all.
For 50 years, ASEAN has given Southeast Asian nations a forum to address a long list of conflicts, catastrophes and crises. But there are limitations to what the association can accomplish beyond business and rhetoric.
Plastic washed up on Manila's beaches can be traced back to Western brands in cashing on Asia's "sachet economies," activists say.
50 years ago, ASEAN emerged as a beacon of unity in Southeast Asia. Today the group is beset by security challenges stemming from the new US administration, a lack of economic integration and a poor human rights record.
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