An association of ten independent South East Asian nations, ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations) was founded in August 1967 in Bangkok by Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. Brunei joined the association in 1984, followed by Vietnam in 1995. Myanmar (formerly Burma) and Laos were accepted as full members of the association in 1997, as was Cambodia in 1999.
ASEAN’s permanent secretariat is based in Jakarta, Indonesia. The main aims of the organisation as set out in the Bangkok Declaration of 1967 are the promotion of economic growth, social and cultural progress, and the maintenance of peace and stability in the region.
A joint forum with Japan was established in 1977 and a Cooperation Agreement was signed with the European Union in 1980. The ASEAN Member States decided to establish a free trade zone in 1992 and lower customs duty on non-agricultural goods from 1993 for a period of 15 years.