Heads of government of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Monday agreed to remove tariffs on a range of products including textiles and clothing by 2007.

The Vientiane Action Programme signed by the Southeast Asian leaders at the 10th ASEAN summit is aimed at accelerating economic integration and speeding up the region's free trade flows.

The accelerated tariff cuts apply only for the six most developed ASEAN countries - Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.

The remaining members - Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar (Burma) and Vietnam - will not fully join the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) scheme until the year 2012.

Dispute settlement mechanisms will also be put in place, giving specific timeframes for the rapid resolution of any trade and investment disagreements.

All these point to realising the goal of an ASEAN Economic Community by 2020.