he Association of Southeast Asian Nations is a regional organization that brings together disparate neighbors to address economic, security, and political issues. ASEAN countries have a total population of 650 million people and a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of $2.8 trillion.
Overview of ASEAN
- ASEAN, was established in 1967 in Bangkok, Thailand, with the signing of the ASEAN Declaration (Bangkok Declaration) by the founding fathers of ASEAN, namely Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. Brunei Darussalam then joined in 1984, Vietnam in 1995, Lao PDR and Myanmar in 1997, and Cambodia in 1999, making up what is today the ten member states of ASEAN.
- Fundamental Principles (Treaty of Amity and Cooperation, 1976)
. 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.
- The ASEAN charter entered into force in 2008 and became the legally binding agreement. ASEAN community consists of 3 pillars: Political-security community, Economic community, Socio-cultural community.
Outcomes of ASEAN
- ASEAN commands far greater influence on Asia-Pacific trade, political, and security issues than its members could achieve individually. This has driven ASEAN’s community building efforts. This work is based largely on consultation, consensus, and cooperation.
- U.S. relations with ASEAN have been excellent since its inception. The United States became a Dialogue Partner country of ASEAN in 1977.
- In 1994, ASEAN took the lead in establishing the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), which now has 27 members and meets each year at the ministerial level.
- Some of the major political accords of ASEAN are as follows:
. Zone of Peace, Freedom and Neutrality Declaration, Kuala Lumpur, 1971
. ASEAN Declaration on the South China Sea, Manila, 1992
. ASEAN Convention on Counter Terrorism (ACCT), 2007
. Joint Declaration of the ASEAN Defence Ministers on Promoting Defence Cooperation for a Dynamic ASEAN Community, 2016
- India’s focus on a strengthened and multi-faceted relationship with ASEAN is an outcome of the significant changes in the world’s political and economic scenario since the early 1990s and India’s own march towards economic liberalisation.
- India’s search for economic space resulted in the ‘Look East Policy’.
- The up-gradation of the relationship into a Strategic Partnership in 2012 was a natural progression to the ground covered since India became a Sectoral Partner of the ASEAN in 1992, Dialogue Partner in 1996 and Summit Level Partner in 2002.
- There are, in total, 30 Dialogue Mechanisms between India and ASEAN, cutting across various sectors.
- The main forum for ASEAN security dialogue is the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and India has been attending annual meetings of this forum since 1996.
- The ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM) is the highest defence consultative and cooperative mechanism in ASEAN. The ADMM+ brings together Defence Ministers from the 10 ASEAN nations plus Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Russia, and the United States on a biannual basis.
- India-ASEAN trade and investment relations have been growing steadily, with ASEAN being India’s fourth largest trading partner.
- India’s trade with ASEAN stands at US$ 81.33 billion, which is approximately 10.6% of India’s overall trade. India’s exports to ASEAN stand at 11.28% of our total exports.