Patron: Her Excellency, The Right Honourable Dame Cindy Kiro, GNZM, QSO, Governor-General of New Zealand

News from the Singapore ASEAN Forum and East Asia Summit Meetings

By Dr Anita Perkins 

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum and East Asia Summit  Ministerial Meetings are currently taking place in Singapore. ASEAN promotes economic and political integration and is made up of 10 member countries: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, and is home to approximately 625 million people. The East Asia Summit is an annual meeting of countries in the East Asian, Southeast Asian and South Asian regions and membership also includes the US and Russia.

New Zealand’s role at the meetings

New Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters is currently attending the ASEAN and East Asia Summit meetings. He noted the importance of the Asia Pacific region to New Zealand and the significance of ASEAN to New Zealand in terms of trade. According to the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, trade between New Zealand and ASEAN has grown from US $133 million in 1975 to almost $12 billion last year. On the topics of this year’s meeting Minister Peters stated “The region faces some serious challenges to its security and prosperity, including in the areas of nuclear proliferation, terrorism and cyber security. These meetings are a chance to discuss how we address these challenges collectively”.

Turkey as ASEAN new sectoral dialogue Partner

With the opening of an embassy in Laos last year, Turkey now has diplomatic posts in all ASEAN countries. Last year’s ASEAN meeting saw Turkey become a sectoral dialogue partner at the meeting in the Philippines. Through the Foreign Ministers, ASEAN can confer to non-party the status of (in order of highest to lowest possible level of engagement): a Dialogue Partner, Sectoral Dialogue Partner, Development Partner, Observer, or Guest. New Zealand holds dialogue partner status. Turkey says attaining this level is its ultimate goal.

US attendance at ASEAN meetings

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will be in attendance at the ASEAN meetings and is reported to be bringing a message of committed American engagement in the Indo Pacific. The US plans to discuss water resource issues with Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. At the East Asia Summit meeting and at the East Asia Summit, Mr Pompeo will discuss with partners security issues such as the denuclearisation of North Korea, the South China Sea dispute, terrorism, maritime and cyber security, as well as the crisis in Myanmar’s Rakhine state.