The recently concluded 42nd ASEAN Summit in Indonesia focused on economic integration. There were a few common goals that emerged during exchanges. First, strategising ways of dealing with challenging situations. And second, a united ASEAN working towards making the region an epicentre of growth. Playing host to the delegates, Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo said that the unity of the member nations will enable a stable and prosperous ASEAN.
Staying true to the theme “ASEAN Matters: Epicentrum of Growth”, Indonesia, the current ASEAN chair expressed hope that the bloc will maintain its status as a centre of regional and global growth. The delegates laid emphasis on strengthening ASEAN’s position as a fast-growing, inclusive, and sustainable economic region.
During the summit, President Jokowi and his counterparts also discussed the political crisis in Myanmar. He said that the bloc will continue its efforts to end violence in the military-controlled member nation.
Apart from Myanmar, the geopolitical crisis in the South China Sea was a part of the agenda. ASEAN’s member nations have agreed on self-restraint in the region.
BOLSTERING THE SEA COMMUNITY
Being agile and resilient is important to ASEAN. Country representatives at the ASEAN summit reiterated their support to strengthen the bloc so that it remains relevant to its people.
An important part of this endeavour is to promote opportunities for collaboration between member nations. To facilitate this, the leaders reinforced the use of local currency to bolster regional financial integration and advance regional payment connectivity. In addition, the bloc also agreed to encourage the usage of local currencies for cross-border transactions in the region. A task force will also be set up to explore the development of an ASEAN local currency transaction framework.
Community building and bilateral cooperation will also extend to ASEAN’s newest member, Timor-Leste.
The summit saw leaders commit to implementing the ASEAN Community Vision 2025. This includes an inclusive community and a competitive and innovative society supported by good governance. Simultaneously, the group will develop a Post-2025 Vision that includes sustainable development, regional integration, climate resilient and sustainable infrastructure such as smart cities, as well as energy transition. The ultimate goal is to develop a self-sustaining economic ecosystem within ASEAN.
Grassroots development is an integral component of this goal, wherein the bloc will establish an ASEAN Villages Network. This is a platform for collaboration among villages as well as external partners and private sectors.
ASEAN SUMMIT IN INDONESIA: KEY AREAS OF FOCUS
SEEKING AN END TO VIOLENCE
Unforeseen economic and political instabilities can impact ASEAN’s growth. Take the junta rule in Myanmar, for instance. The military has refused to adhere to the peace plan that it accepted almost two years ago.
President Jokowi criticised the Myanmar generals for zero progress on the five-point plan, including an end to violence, allowing humanitarian assistance by ASEAN, open dialogue with all parties, and an ASEAN special envoy in the country.
PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE
Strengthening the region’s resources for the present and planning for the future is vital for ASEAN’s growth. To further this, the bloc adopted the ASEAN Leaders’ Declaration on Developing Regional Electric Vehicle Ecosystem.
This recognises the role of adopting EVs to improve energy security in the region. The leaders are also committed to developing a regional electric vehicle ecosystem that supports the adoption of EVs and building a global production hub for such vehicles.
ASEAN is expected to achieve a growth rate of 4.7% in 2023 and 5% in 2024. This is anticipated to be propelled by domestic consumption, a rise in exports, and an accelerated recovery in services. The 42nd ASEAN Summit has set lofty goals for the member nations to accomplish. A laser focus on the common purpose of regional well-being will help the bloc achieve this mission.
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