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John Key

SE Asia creates economic community, but challenges remain

Thirteen years after mooting the idea, Southeast Asian leaders on Sunday formally created a unified economic community in a region more populous and diverse than both the European Union and North America, and one that hopes to compete with China and India.

The 10 leaders in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations signed a declaration during their summit establishing the ASEAN Economic Community, as part of a larger ASEAN Community that aims for political, security, cultural and social integration.

The summit's host, Prime Minister Najib Razak of Malaysia, hailed the ASEAN Community as a "landmark achievement," and urged members to accelerate integration....