Member states of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) officially started their economic integration on New Year's Eve in the region that is home to 625 million people, dpa reported.
The combined economy of the 10 ASEAN states - Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore,
Thailand and Vietnam - is the seventh largest in the world.
The European Union-inspired common market aims at boosting the economy and attracting more investment by lowering tariffs and allowing freer flows of capital, goods, services and skilled labour.
Sandwiched between India and China, ASEAN was founded in 1967 with the goals of accelerating economic growth, social progress and cultural development, and promoting regional peace and stability.