VIENTIANE, 6 September 2016 – The ASEAN Heads of State/Government adopted the third Work Plan of the Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI Work Plan III) at the 28th ASEAN Summit today. The five-year work plan, an integral part of the ASEAN 2025: Forging Ahead Together, aims to narrow the development gap, enhance the region’s competitiveness and support the implementation of the three Community Blueprints which ASEAN Leaders adopted in November last year.

Built upon the first IAI Work Plan that was launched in 2000, the IAI Work Plan III continues to provide technical assistance to Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Viet Nam (CLMV) which joined ASEAN between 1995 and 1999, to enhance their capacity in implementing their regional commitments. It focuses on five strategic areas including food and agriculture; trade facilitation; micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs); education; as well as health and well-being.

Since the start of the first IAI Work Plan, more than 600 projects and activities worth over US$102 million have been implemented. Development gap has been narrowed due to the income and trade growth of CLMV countries in the past decade (2006-2015). Average GDP growth rate of each of these countries was between 6.0% and 8.7%, compared to the region’s average of 5.2%. Within the same period, their merchandise trade leaped between 2.5 and 5.8 folds. CLMV countries also played an increasing role in the regional trade, contributing to 16.9% of ASEAN’s total merchandise trade in 2015 as compared to 6.4% in 2006.

Despite the economic growth, CLMV countries, however, have the lowest incomes among ASEAN Member States – three of them are categorised as the least-developed countries by the United Nations. Meanwhile, the scale and complexity of ASEAN’s commitments and agreements have grown substantially as regional integration gathers pace.

The IAI Work Plan III affirms ASEAN’s continued efforts to assist CLMV countries to meet ASEAN-wide targets and commitments towards realising the goals of the ASEAN Community. New features in the work plan include greater involvement of CLMV officials in developing, coordinating and monitoring of activities as well as a monitoring and evaluation mechanism to track progress and measure outcomes.

The Work Plan was prepared with the support of the Australian Government through the ASEAN-Australia Development Development Cooperation Program II (AADCP II).

The IAI Work Plan III is available for download here.