The reduction of the development deficit (OMN) is the framework for addressing inequalities between and within Member States where there are underdevelopments. Under the MDGs, ASEAN continued to work closely with other sub-regional cooperation frameworks (e.g. B BIMP-EAGA, IMT-GT, GMS, Mekong) and sees them as « equal partners in the development of regional production and distribution networks » within the AEC and as a platform for « mainstream social development issues in project development and implementation » within the CCSA. [91] The ASEAN Ministerial Meeting[163] [164] will be one of the other meetings, which focus primarily on topics such as defence and the environment[165] and involving ministers. The ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), which met for the first time in 1994, encourages dialogue and consultation and the promotion of confidence and prevention diplomacy in the region. [166] In July 2007, it consisted of 27 participants, including all ASEAN Member States, Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, China, the EU, India, Japan, North Korea and South Korea, New Zealand, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Russia East Timor, the United States and Sri Lanka. [167] Taiwan has been excluded since the inception of the ARF and issues relating to the Taiwan Strait are not discussed at ARF meetings or specified in the statements of the ARF President. Some experts have suggested that ASEAN reinvent its framework and decision-making practices. In 2012, Kurlantzick recommended substantial changes to ASEAN to CFR that could help guide economic and political integration efforts in Asia. These include strengthening its secretariat and allowing a high-level secretary general to speak on his behalf, making a consensus decision and demonstrating that ASEAN can create its own free trade area. Others, such as Hiebert of CSIS, see the organization thrive in a coalition format where some members of the group may decide to act on certain issues, such as joint maritime patrol initiatives, and others may join later.

Despite these diplomatic forums, differences on security issues continue to call into question ASEAN unity. The group`s most egregious problem was finding a common response to China`s rise. « China`s return to great power in the East Asian region is likely to change not only Southeast Asia`s relations with China, but perhaps ASEAN`s own internal relations, » Mark Beeson, an Australian professor specializing in the region, wrote in 2016. The AEC aims to implement « economic integration initiatives » to create a single market for Member States. [63] [64] The project, which serves as a comprehensive guide to the creation of the Community, was adopted on 20 November 2007 at the 13th ASEAN Summit in Singapore. [63] [65] Its characteristics include an internal market and a production base, a highly competitive economic region, a region with equitable economic development and a region fully integrated into the global economy. Areas of cooperation include the development of human resources, recognition of professional qualifications, closer consultation of economic policies, improved infrastructure and communications, integration of industries for regional public procurement and increased private sector participation. The free movement of skilled labour, goods, services and investment would make ASEAN a single market in the world, strengthening its competitiveness and development opportunities. [66] ASEAN brings together countries with very different economies and political systems.