Negotiate new relationship based on economic cooperation

There is a difference between being a political entity such as the European Union and an economic cooperation grouping in the form of Asean ("Brexit has profound lessons for Asean integration"; June 29).

The EU was born of a romanticised notion of a once-unified mediaeval Europe. It was a desire that emerged in the midst of the Cold War, when Europe wanted a bigger collective entity to deal with superpowers.

The EU is more than an economic cooperation grouping; it is a legal political entity that transcends geopolitical boundaries and local national governments.

Sitting over and above the political leadership of member countries is the EU Parliament, which debates and decides on policies that are binding on member countries, overriding the laws of member countries.

By contrast, Asean is an economic grouping where economic cooperation is sought, with no intervention by governments of member countries on how to translate the Asean debates and decisions into policies and laws in member countries.

Each member country of Asean retains its sovereignty, where its own government is its highest governing authority.

It is still too early to say what the outcome of Britain's vote to exit the EU might be, ultimately.

The immediate impact of Brexit is momentous, but is it fatal? No one knows for sure.

The highest priority right now is for the British political leadership to negotiate a new relationship with the EU, one that is based on economic cooperation. This is the way forward for Britain.

Peter Chan Teng Hong