Singapore was one of the founding members of ASEAN when it was formed on 8 August 1967, along with Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand. As a small nation-state, Singapore strongly supports ASEAN’s goal of building a strong, prosperous and rules-based ASEAN. The ASEAN Community, comprising the ASEAN Political-Security Community (APSC), the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), and the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC), was established on 31 December 2015.
The success of ASEAN rests on its open, inclusive and outward-looking nature. In this vein, ASEAN has established Dialogue Partnerships with ten parties: Australia, Canada, China, the European Union, India, Japan, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, Russia, and the United States. Each ASEAN Member State is appointed to coordinate relations with a Dialogue Partner; Singapore is the country coordinator for ASEAN-EU dialogue relations from August 2018 to August 2021. In addition to the Dialogue Partnerships, ASEAN-led platforms including the ASEAN Plus Three, East Asia Summit, ASEAN Regional Forum and the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus, have helped to develop predictability in interactions amongst its members, thus enhancing confidence-building and contributing towards regional stability.
The ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Retreat took place from 17 to 18 January 2019 in Chiang Mai, as the first in a series of meetings that Thailand will be hosting as Chair of ASEAN in 2019. ASEAN discussed its priorities for the year ahead, as well as ways to implement Thailand’s Chairmanship theme of “Advancing Partnership for Sustainability” and strengthen the ASEAN Community. The Foreign Ministers also looked into how ASEAN can implement sustainable plans to improve the livelihood of its peoples.
As country coordinator for ASEAN-EU dialogue relations, Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan co-chaired the 22nd ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting, which took place in Brussels, Belgium on 22 January 2019, with EU High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini. At the meeting, the Foreign Ministers’ adopted the Joint Statement of the 22nd ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting. ASEAN and the EU agreed on an in-principle upgrade of ASEAN-EU relations to a Strategic Partnership, a signal of the longstanding and comprehensive cooperation between the two regions.
ASEAN ECONOMIC COMMUNITY AND REGIONAL COMPREHENSIVE ECONOMIC PARTNERSHIP
Within ASEAN, the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) was formally realised on 31 December 2015, following the signing of the Kuala Lumpur Declaration on the Establishment of the ASEAN Community on 22 November 2015. The AEC is the cornerstone of ASEAN’s efforts towards deeper regional integration and is aligned with Singapore’s interests for a more open trade regime in ASEAN.
The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is a proposed FTA between the ten ASEAN member states and the six states with which ASEAN has existing FTAs, namely Australia, China, India, Japan, Korea and New Zealand. The RCEP will have broader and deeper engagement with significant improvements over existing ASEAN+1 FTAs, while recognising the individual and diverse circumstances of the participating countries.
Beyond advancing our economic interests, these intra and inter-regional FTAs help build a web of strategic linkages for Singapore within the region and with countries outside the region. They serve the broader interest of anchoring the presence of our major trading partners in Southeast Asia, and ensuring that they remain as stakeholders here. These FTAs also help to sustain an open regional orientation and prevent the formation of inward-looking trading blocs. This web of interlocking economic and strategic interests will contribute to regional stability, prosperity and security.
More information can be found on the official ASEAN Secretariat website.