Southeast Asian leaders have agreed to begin talks next year on free trade accords with Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.
The agreements were made Tuesday during the final session of a two-day summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in the Lao capital, Vientiane.
On Monday, ASEAN signed four agreements with China, clearing the way for the world's biggest free trade zone. Negotiations on a similar free trade agreement are under way with India.
ASEAN countries also agreed to completely eliminate tariffs in 11 priority sectors within the region by 2012, as well as to increase security and cultural cooperation with a goal of creating a regional community by 2010.