GENEVA, Nov. 30 (Xinhua) -- Increased integration into the global economy has made the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region a more accessible market for trading goods than either the European Union or the United States, according to a report published Wednesday by the World Economic Forum (WEF) and the Global Alliance for Trade Facilitation.
Global Enabling Trade Report 2016 features the enabling trade index (ETI), which assesses the performance of 136 economies on domestic and foreign market access, border administration, transport and digital infrastructure, transport services, and operating environment.
The report said that ASEAN's progress as an economic power comes at a time when the United States and the European Union are becoming less open, adding that ASEAN's progress in other areas measured by the index is less pronounced.
As a result, the best economies for enabling trade tend to be in northern and western Europe, with the notable exception of Singapore and China's Hong Kong, in first and third places, respectively.
"Free trade remains the most powerful driver of global economic development and social progress. The challenge for leaders today is to confront protectionism but they also have a duty to make trade a source for more inclusive growth," said Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum.
Produced every two years, the Global Enabling Trade Report assesses the extent to which economies have in place the factors facilitating the free flow of goods over borders and to their destination.