NANJING, China: Occidental nations were this week served notice that their trade imbalances with the South-East Asian tiger economies are likely to bloat even further within the next five years.

A significant contributing factor to this trend will likely be the new free trade area planned by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which currently comprises Brunei, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, The Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.

The FTA is scheduled to be fully operational by 2010 and, within another five years, will be extended to include Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Viet Nam.

The bloc will facilitate liberalized trade between member nations, thereby disadvantaging Western exporters. On completion it will encompass a combined population of nearly two billion people and a gross domestic product of more than US$2 trillion (€1.57tr; £1.05tr).

Moreover, it will emulate European Union strategy, extending its remit to agriculture, information technology, Mekong River Basin development, transport, energy, culture, tourism and public health.

Data sourced from China Daily; additional content by WARC staff