Leaders of the four poorest members of the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) have agreed to forge closer links to catch up with their wealthier neighbors.
The leaders of Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Burma signed an agreement in Vientiane Sunday) to link their economies and attract foreign investment. This comes ahead of an ASEAN summit in Laos that begins Monday.
Wealthier ASEAN members have tried to help the four nations catch up economically by granting them easier targets under plans to remove trade barriers by 2020. They also have joined with other donors in funding development projects, such as building roads and fostering good governance.
ASEAN is eager to narrow the development gap, to create stability and generate more clout with its trading partners.
Information for this report is provided by AP and AFP.