Low awareness of 2015 Asean integration noted

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MANILA, Philippines—Citizens of Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) members generally don’t know much about or are uninterested in the regional grouping even as the 2015 threshold for building an integrated economic bloc approaches.

A study released by the Asean Secretariat found that three out of four people (76 percent) “lack a basic understanding” of what Asean is and what it is striving to do.

However, four out of five (81 percent) are “familiar with” or have heard of Asean. According to those who prepared the report, this “significantly surpassed the expected public awareness.”

The 11-page study presents the results of a survey that covered 2,200 respondents from the general public as well as in-depth interviews with 261 business leaders in 11 sectors—all spread out across the capital cities of the 10 Asean members.

Businesses have a relatively better understanding of Asean as some of them are taking part in activities related to the promotion of Asean integration, according to the report.

Even then, the data show that 55 percent of business respondents only have “a basic understanding” of what Asean is and 30 percent lack any basic knowledge of the grouping.

“The overall level of understanding for both businesses and general public is still low because of a general lack of interest alongside an ineffective use of communication channels,” the report said.

“However, it is good to note that the overall perception and attitude towards the Asean community is positive,” it added.

The survey shows that businesses and the general public both perceive Asean integration as having positive impacts on the region.

Businessmen who were surveyed generally believe the planned Asean Economic Community will improve the overall economy of the region, helping Asean compete globally.

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