During the summit, the leaders are expected to announce the start of negotiations for an expanded free-trade area involving ASEAN member countries and six regional economic powerhouses that include China but excluding the United States, which is promoting a separate Asia-Pacific free-trade arrangement.
ASEAN leaders meanwhile agreed that implementation of an ambitious ASEAN Economic Community will be slightly delayed.
Delegates explained that the AEC will be launched at the end of 2015 rather than on Jan. 1, 2015, as originally envisioned.
The community, roughly similar to the EC, would integrate the diverse nations’ economies, covering trade, investment and other measures.
Thai Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul said the meeting’s chairman, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, had proposed the later starting date, and won the approval of all members.
He said ASEAN economic ministers had agreed the implementation could begin on Jan. 1, 2015, but that the leaders agreed Sunday that much work had yet to be done. ‘‘ASEAN is more concerned about substance than the date,’’ he said.
Associated Press writers Grant Peck and Sopheng Cheang contributed to this report.