MANILA – The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) led by Indonesia this year is eyeing an economic cooperation-centered thrust in the Indo-Pacific, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said Wednesday.
Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary for ASEAN Affairs Daniel Espiritu said the bloc envisions an outlook that responds to the Indo-Pacific strategies of major powers like the United States, Japan, Australia, India and South Korea.
“[T]he thing that you will notice about the Indo-Pacific concept of the superpowers and their allies is that they are security-centered,” he said in a briefing.
“ASEAN would like to propose another version, another aspect of Indo-Pacific engagement which is centered more on economic cooperation without saying that this is replacing the Indo-Pacific concept as a security concept. It’s another way of dealing with it,” he added.
The ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific covers connectivity, economic and maritime cooperation as well as reaching the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals 2030.
Under this concept, ASEAN seek to deepen economic integration, ensure financial stability and resilience, as well as strengthen trade and investment by supporting the implementation of the ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint 2025 and other free trade agreements including the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
It also aims to develop the private sector, including micro, small and medium enterprises, to allow their participation in the regional and global value chains.
ASEAN member states include Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. (PNA)