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 (ROK), 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, such as the ASEAN Plus Three, East Asia Summit, ASEAN Regional Forum and the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus, have enhanced cooperation between ASEAN and its external partners and contributed to regional peace and stability.
At the 52nd ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and Related Meetings (AMM) in Bangkok, several outcome documents were adopted, including the 52nd AMM Joint Communique, ASEAN-EU Statement on Cybersecurity Cooperation, and three ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) statements on strengthening aviation partnership, promoting the role of women in peace and security, as well as preventing and countering violent extremism. The ASEAN Foreign Ministers also issued an ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Statement on Illegal Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Waste and Other Wastes in Southeast Asia. Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan co-chaired the ASEAN-EU Post-Ministerial Conference in Singapore’s capacity as Country Coordinator for ASEAN-EU Dialogue Relations. In addition, he attended the Post-Ministerial Conferences for the other Dialogue Partners, the 20th ASEAN Plus Three Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, the 9th East Asia Summit Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, and the 26th ASEAN Regional Forum.
At the 35th ASEAN Summit and Related Summits from 2 to 4 November 2019 in Bangkok, the ASEAN Leaders met with ASEAN’s external partners to exchange views on international and regional issues, and strengthen ASEAN’s cooperation with its partners in sustainable development, as well as emerging areas such as cybersecurity and smart cities. ASEAN Leaders signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the International Federation of Association Football to strengthen cooperation in social development in ASEAN through football. The ASEAN Leaders also launched the Complementarities Roadmap (2020-2025), which aims to promote complementarities between the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The ASEAN Leaders adopted several key outcome documents, including the Joint Leaders’ Statement on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP); three East Asia Summit Statements on transnational crime, combatting the spread of illicit drugs, and partnership for sustainability; an ASEAN Plus Three Statement on Connecting the Connectivities Initiative; and various statements and declarations on education, vaccine security, climate change and rights of the child.
At the ASEAN-ROK Commemorative Summit from 25 to 27 November 2019 in Busan, ASEAN and the ROK celebrated 30 years of dialogue relations. Both sides welcomed the significant progress in ASEAN-ROK relations across the three pillars of the ASEAN Community. They also adopted the ASEAN-ROK Joint Vision Statement for Peace, Prosperity and Partnership, which will further enhance the ASEAN-ROK relationship.
ASEAN ECONOMIC COMMUNITY AND REGIONAL COMPREHENSIVE ECONOMIC PARTNERSHIP
Within ASEAN, the 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 free trade agreement (FTA) between the 10 ASEAN Member States and the six states with which ASEAN has existing FTAs – namely, Australia, China, India, Japan, Republic of 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. At the 3rd RCEP Summit held on 4 November 2019 in Bangkok, 15 of the RCEP Participating Countries announced the conclusion of text-based negotiations for all 20 chapter texts and essentially all market access issues, and the Leaders tasked legal scrubbing to commence for signing in 2020.
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.