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A Regional Organization Reference With ASEAN

ASEAN was established on 8th August 1967 in Bangkok, Thailand with the signing of the Bangkok Declaration by the founding fathers of the countries of Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines. The preceding organisation was the Association of Southeast Asia (ASA) comprising of Thailand, the Philippines and Malaysia. Five other nations joined the ASEAN in subsequent years making the current membership to ten countries. We are going discuss about why AESEAN was formed its purpose, principle,how does it and its members cooperation and eveopment,important region economic, new changes faced by ASEAN in this Article.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (more commonly known as ASEAN) is an intergovernmental organization aimed primarily at encouraging economic growth and regional stability among its members.

There are currently 10 member states:
Malaysia, Brunei, Burma, Singapore, Thaiand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, Philippines.

The Main Moto of ASEAN is �One Vision, One Identity, One Community�. ASEAN�s aim is to economic growth, social progress, cultural development among its members and protection of regional peace stability. The Motivations for the birth of ASEAN were to the common fear of communism, reduced faith in or mistrust of external powers in 1960�s.

The ASEAN Charter entered into force on 15 December 2008. With the entry into force of the ASEAN Charter, ASEAN established its legal identity as an international organization and took a several steps in its community-building process. The ASEAN Community is encompass of three pillars, the Political-Security Community, Economic Community and Socio-Cultural Community. ASEAN commands far greater influence on Asia-Pacific trade, political, and security issues than its members could achieve individually. U.S. relations with ASEAN have been excellent since its dawn.

The United States became a Dialogue Partner country of ASEAN in 1977. Dialogue partners meet regularly with ASEAN at the working and senior levels to guide the development of our regional relations.

Moto : �One Vision, One Identity, One Community�

Asean Headquarters:
The body is headquartered in Jakarta, Indonesia.
Secretary General: Lim Jock Hoi
Official Languages: Burmese, Filipino, Indonesian, Khmer, Lao, Malay, Mandarin, Tamil, Thai and Vietnamese
Working Language: English

Why was it set up?
ASEAN was founded half a century ago in 1967 by the five Southeast Asian nations of Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. This was during the polarized atmosphere of the Cold War, and the alliance aimed to promote stability in the region. Over time, the group expanded to include its current 10 members. Regional cooperation was further extended with the creation of the ASEAN Plus Three forum in 1997, which included China, South Korea and Japan. And then the East Asia Summit, which began taking place in 2005 and has expanded to include India, Australia, New Zealand, Russia and the United States.

Purpose Of Asean:
Accelerating economic growth, cultural development and social progress in the region by joint initiatives in the spirit of partnership and equality to cement the foundation for a peaceful and strong community of SE Asian countries.

Promoting peace and stability in the region by incorporating respect for justice and the rule of law in the relationships between nations and adherence to the United Nations principles.
Promoting active collaboration and mutual assistance in subjects of common interest in social, economic, cultural, administrative, scientific and technical domains.

Providing assistance to member countries via training and research facilities in the educational, administrative, technical and professional domains.

Cooperating for a better usage of agriculture and industries, trade expansion (including studying the problem of international commodity trade), improving communication and transportation facilities, and improving living standards among the people.

Promoting SE Asian studies.

Exploring more avenues for further cooperation among themselves, and maintaining close and advantageous cooperation with other international groupings of similar objectives.

Asean Fundamental Principe
  • Mutual respect for the independence, sovereignty, equality, territorial integrity, and national identity of all nations;
  • The right of every State to lead its national existence free from external interference, subversion or coercion;
  • Non-interference in the internal affairs of one another;
  • Settlement of differences or disputes by peaceful manner;
  • Renunciation of the threat or use of force; and
  • Effective cooperation among themselves.

Asean Head Forum:
ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF): Launched in 1993, the twenty-seven-member multilateral grouping was developed to facilitate cooperation on political and security issues to contribute to regional confidence-building and preventive diplomacy.

ASEAN Plus Three: The consultative group initiated in 1997 brings together ASEAN�s ten members, China, Japan, and South Korea.

East Asia Summit (EAS): First held in 2005, the summit seeks to promote security and prosperity in the region and is usually attended by the heads of state from ASEAN, Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, South Korea, and the United States. ASEAN plays a central role as the agenda-setter.

What does it do now?
ASEAN aims to promote collaboration and cooperation among member states, as well as to advance the interests of the region as a whole, including economic and trade growth. It has negotiated a free trade agreement among member states and with other countries such as China, as well as eased travel in the region for citizens of member countries. In 2015, it established the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), a major milestone in the organization�s regional economic integration agenda.

The AEC envisions the bloc as a single market with free flow of goods, services, investments and skilled labour, and freer movement of capital across the region.True to its original mission, the organization strives towards peace and stability in the region: members have signed a treaty pledging not to develop nuclear weapons, and most have agreed to a counter-terrorism pact, which includes sharing intelligence and easing the extradition process of terror suspects.

How do members cooperate?
One of the organization�s aims is to promote technical and research cooperation among its members. The ASEAN Outstanding Scientist and Technologist Award is presented every three years to recognize nationally and internationally acclaimed achievements in the field. Areas of research include safeguarding the region�s environment and wildlife. The association�s Center for Biodiversity was established to promote cooperation on conservation and sustainability throughout the region and serves as secretariat of ASEAN Heritage Parks, which oversees37 protected sites.

In the field of education, the ASEAN University Network was founded in 1995 to promote academic and youth cooperation between member states. As part of this initiative, the University Games have been held every two years since 1981.

Important region economic:
If ASEAN were a country, it would be the seventh-largest economy in the world, with a combined GDP of $2.6 trillion in 2014. By 2050 it's projected to rank as the fourth-largest economy. Home to more than 622 million people, the region has a larger population than the European Union or North America. It also has the third-largest labour force in the world, behind China and India.

India - ASEAN Relationship:
India�s relationship with ASEAN is a key pillar of its foreign policy
India has repeatedly underscored the centrality of the ASEAN in its Indo-Pacific vision.
Since 2005, the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement (CECA) has been the nucleus and nexus of our partnership.
India contributes actively to ASEAN-led fora such as the East Asia Summit, the ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting Plus, and ASEAN Regional Forum.
ASEAN-India and East Asia summits symbolised India's "continued commitment" to strengthen its engagement with ASEAN members.
This year the leaders of the ASEAN countries were the chief guests at the Republic Day Parade in New Delhi.
We celebrated 25 years of dialogue partnership under the theme of �Shared Values, Common Destiny�, 15 years of summit-level interaction and five years of strategic partnership.
Economic relations with respect to India-ASEAN trade and investment relations have been growing steadily.
We are also witnessing rise in investment flows, particularly quality of FDI Investments from ASEAN.

ASEAN Significance for India
3 Cs�Culture, Connectivity and Commerce� will shape India�s ties with the ASEAN bloc. b) Connecting India's North-eastern states with ASEAN.
India is part of ASEAN led RCEP which aims to create the world�s largest free trade area with more than a third of the global GDP and commerce.
For the first time, bilateral trade between ASEAN and India has crossed US$ 80 billion mark.
Singapore has become India�s investment and trading hub in the East.

Security Significance
  • ASEAN occupies a central place in the security architecture of the Indo-Pacific region
  • Maritime cooperation in terms of connectivity, safety and security has gained high attention.
  • India and ASEAN can collaborate to combat terror financing, cyber security threats, tax evasions and many more.
  • India needs ASEAN support in achieving a rules-based regional security architecture
  • Geo-Strategic Significance
  • Partnership with ASEAN nations might help India counter the growing presence of Beijing.
  • ASEAN is seen as the most successful regional organisation next only to the EU
  • To develop connectivity through water, ASEAN and India are working on the Kaladan Multi Model Transit Transport Project.
  • ASEAN-India cooperation in maritime domain is one of the key focus areas for growth and development of the Indo-Pacific region.

Economic Cooperation And Development:
While during and after World War II, security, human rights, and democracy were of primary importance in creating regional organizations, by the end of the 20th century and with the end of the Cold War, regional grouping for trade and economic cooperation became a prime concern. This gave birth to the Economic Cooperation Organization in 1985, the South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation in 1985, the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation in 1989, the Central European Initiative in 1989, the Arab Maghreb Union in 1989, the Central American Integrations System in 1991, the South African Development Community in 1992, the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa in 1994, the ASEAN Regional Forum in 1994, the ASEAN Plus Three in 1997, the Central African Economic and Monetary Community in 1998, the Community of SahelSaharan States in 1998, and the East African Community in 1999. Even further new subgroups formed within the larger regional groups for economic cooperation.

This new regionalism, led by economic aspirations in the post�Cold War period, became quite prominent and is very much reflected in the formation of ASEAN Plus Three, the Central European Initiative, and the Central African Economic and Monetary Community. The two decades of relative peace at the international level after World War II and changing international politics from war to development galvanized many states to group together into regional organizations and work collectively toward development.

Prior to the mid-1980s, before the neoliberal economic policy focusing on free market and economic development was dominant, several regional organizations had already emerged for economic cooperation and development. Some of these were the Council of Arab Economic Unity, which emerged in 1964; the Andean Community of Nations, or Andean Pact (1969); the Pacific Islands Forum (1971); the Caribbean Community (1973); the Mano River Union (1973); the Economic Community of West African States (1975); the Latin American Integration Association (1980); and the Gulf Cooperation Council (1981).

ASEAN�s New Challenges:
The ASEAN region, made up of Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam, boasted a combined GDP of roughly $2.77 trillion as of 2017, with predictions for enviable GDP growth rates of around 5.3% per year through 2019. Here are seven challenges the bloc faces in promoting sustainable economic growth, and suggested steps to solve them.
  • Geopolitical stability and regional relationships
  • Governance challenges for businesses
  • New business models
  • Changing demographics
  • Inclusive growth and sustainable development
  • Regional digital economy

Economic integration
Regional organizations are increasingly facing and adapting to new challenges, such as environmental issues, climate change, terrorism, violence by nonstate actors, energy security, prevention of proliferation of weapons of mass destructions, crime, and drug trafficking. Although regional organizations work as democratic decision-making bodies to resolve territorial and larger security and economic issues, there remain many issues�internal democracy, coercion within states, hegemonic relations with other organizations, inability to expand or contract as needed, and shifting of conflict from stronger regional organizations to weaker nonmember nations�that need to be resolved. Weaker nations have often become victims of conflict between powerful organizations and nations�examples of such victim nations include Vietnam and Afghanistan. Currently, the United States is the only global superpower.

It has played an important role in shaping the world economic and military security since World War II. It has also played an important role in the disintegration of the Soviet bloc and the integration of Eastern European countries into NATO. However, many members of organizations in which the United States is also a member have felt threatened by the United States� direct and indirect interference. Today, to a large extent, agendas in many regional organizations are driven by the agenda suitable to and consented by the United States. As the only superpower, the United States can start war against any country to protect its national interest or maintain its supremacy.

For example, as part of the World Trade Organization, the United States can block free trade to protect its farmers. Although regional organizations (along with the United Nations and other international organizations) face challenges to their sovereignty and autonomy as a result of U.S. interference, the United States, as the only superpower, is able to constrain, contain, and limit regional conflicts that otherwise might be detrimental to international peace and cooperation.

The most important characteristics of the ASEAN Way nurtured in the past 50 years may be summarised as follows:
  • Non-interference, inclusiveness, and harmony.
  • Liberalization, cooperation, and community building
  • ASEAN centrality and a leading role
  • To priorities economic development based on open and cooperative principles.
  • To manage the differences and disputes prudently with goodwill and a spirit of cooperation.
  • To support regional cooperation and institution building.

Contemporary On Asean
ASEAN was to set up likely on Mar 22nd and now it was postponed US to June 2020 at Da Nang due to COVID 19 and also INDIA is not going to participated in this ASEAN Trade. It is also epected between Oct 1 to Nov 30

Way Forward
Need for maritime cooperation and centrality of trade for the prosperity of the strategic Indo Pacific region.

India must speed up work on connectivity projects, such as the India-Myanmar-Thailand trilateral highway, and building new trade and transport linkages with all the ASEAN Nations.
Stronger strategic and security relations with equally strong economic ties will create greater interdependence between India and the ASEAN members.

This will serve as an effective counter to China�s growing clout in the region

There are tremendous opportunities in enhancing physical and digital connectivity between India and ASEAN.

There is still much room to expand air links to support growing business and tourism.

A robust maritime connectivity between India and ASEAN is crucial for realization of the full potential of the India ASEAN trade.

An alternative, economic corridor based multimodal connectivity such as Mekong-India Economic Corridor may be promoted, which will connect Indian coast with unexplored Southeast Asian coast and beyond.
Enhanced maritime connectivity would provide lower logistic costs, and motivate increased trade in goods and services.

India�s geo strategic interests in the Indo-Pacific region depend on India�s bilateral and multilateral engagements with the countries in the region. Maintaining cordiality with ASEAN as an organization and with the individual Southeast Asian countries remains crucial for India. Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a very well settled organization to maintain and solved the matters and issues of Southeast Nations which is its member countries.

It makes treaty with other nations regarding trade and business towards Southeast Asian Countries. It provides equal opportunity to all its members related to trade and commerce. It maintains the external affairs of its member countries among themselves and others too but it does not interfere with internal matters of any of the member country.

ASEAN summit held once in two years where all the member countries participated and discuss on issues regarding to relations with other nations and trade and commerce. In this meeting members also solve their personal issues and problems. After formation of ASEAN South East Asian countries look healthy in their relations with other nations and trade and commerce between themselves and others.

India is pulling out of the RCEP deal shows the limitations of the ties of the ASEAN nations. Maintaining cordial relation both bilaterally and multilateral with these nations is essential for India's economic and security interest of the nation.

  • Nagi R., ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations), 20 years, Lancers Books, 1989
  • Regional Organization and Order in South-East Asia by Arnfinn Jorgensen-Dahl
Written By: Suriya T

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