ASEAN Summit

ASEAN Summit

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) holds annual meetings in relation to economic, and cultural development of Southeast Asian countries. These meetings are known as ASEAN Summit. [cite book|title=Roadmap to an Asean Economic Community |author= Denis Hew|year=2005|publisher=Institute of Southeast Asian Studies|id=ISBN 9812303472]

The grouping regularly conducts dialogue meetings with other countries in an organization collectively known as the "ASEAN dialogue partners". Dealing with strategic and security issues, this group of 10 countries is able to act without the pressures of the cold war powers, as it has refused entry to the U.S. It has become a bulwark against perceived American hegemony in the region. ASEAN + 3 adds China, Japan and South Korea after the agreement of ASEAN+3 Heads of Government Summit on Nov. 2001 in Brunei. U.S. influence continues to be resisted.

The formal summit are held in three days. The usual itinerary are as follows:
* ASEAN leaders hold an internal organization meeting.
* ASEAN leaders hold a conference together with foreign ministers of the ASEAN Regional Forum.
* Leaders of 3 ASEAN Dialogue Partners (also known as ASEAN+3) namely China, Japan and South Korea hold a meeting with the ASEAN leaders.
* A separate meeting is set for leaders of 2 ASEAN Dialogue Partners (also known as ASEAN+CER) namely Australia and New Zealand.

At the 11th ASEAN Summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, new meetings are scheduled. These are:
* East Asia Summit - converging ASEAN and six dialogue partners namely China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and India.
* ASEAN-Russia Summit - meeting between ASEAN leaders and the President of Russia.

Free trade

China signed a trade deal with ASEAN, which further strengthens the trade ties between ASEAN and China. [ [] ]

At the same time, Australia and New Zealand started the negotiation for a free trade deal with ASEAN. The aim of the negotiation is to significantly reduce trade barriers by 2016. [ [ Aust wins invite to next year's ASEAN summit. 01/12/2004. ABC News Online ] ] [ [ Southeast Asia Leaders Advance Free Trade with Six Major Countries ] ]

The U.S.A. is also taking steps to getting a free trade deal done. [ [ US Signs Trade Pact with Southeast Asia ] ]

Treaty of Amity and Cooperation

ASEAN has tried to sign a Treaty of Amity and Cooperation [ [ Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia 1976 ] ] (TAC) with most of its neighbours. This in turn has prompted various criticisms from some ASEAN leaders. The TAC requires signatory countries to forgo any use of violence against member countries.

The Foreign Ministers of ASEAN member states determined that invitation to the inaugural East Asian Summit, the first of which is to be held in late 2005 and hosted by Malaysia, was to be restricted to signatories of the TAC. The Howard Government in Australia, although seeking invitation, was reluctant to ascend to the treaty claiming it was out-of-date and might conflict with obligations and rights it had under other treaties. However, with entry to the Summit confined to signatories only, and with domestic pressure to sign, Australia decided in early 2005 to sign the TAC on the condition that its rights under the UN Charter are recognised as inalienable. Upon the announcement of accession, Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer was asked whether or not he considered himself an east Asian, he replied: "Do I consider myself an East Asian? ... I consider myself an Australian."

All the original ASEAN members signed the treaty during the Bali Summit of 1976. Papua New Guinea agreed to the treaty in 1989. China and India signed in October 2003, Japan and Pakistan signed in 2004 and Australia and New Zealand in 2005. France is expected to sign the treaty in July 2006 during ASEAN Foreign Ministerial Meeting in Kuala Lumpur. [ [ Malaysia to push for Asean community ] ] [ [] ] The EU also announced it will accede to the treaty. [ [] ]

The treaty was amended in 1987 to include countries outside the region. It was further amended in 1998 to include new members to ASEAN.

East Timor

The new nation of East Timor, previously ruled by Indonesia, has had a long struggle with ASEAN. East Timor, during its long process towards independence, has sought to have observer status in ASEAN, much like Papua New Guinea, and eventually official member status. Historically, ASEAN countries supported Indonesia over East Timor, with the Philippines and Malaysia barring overseas NGOs from participating in East Timor conferences in the late 1990s. More recently, Myanmar opposed granting observer status to East Timor because of the latter's support for opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

Since East Timor's independence in May 2002, ASEAN has been more accommodating of the new nation. East Timor has already been invited to several ASEAN meetings, but is still not an observer nation in the ASEAN. [ [ Excerpts from the Joint Communique of the 35th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting, Bandar Seri Begawan, 29-30 July 2002 ] ] In December 2005, the government of East Timor stated the nation would be a member of ASEAN by 2011. [ [ Xinhua - English ] ]

The nation's Prime Minister is expected to formally apply for membership at the 2006 39th Annual Ministerial Meeting of ASEAN Foreign Ministers in Kuala Lumpur. [ [ East Timor ASEAN bid - World - ] ]

October 2003 summit

At a meeting on October 7, 2003 on Bali, leaders of the members nations signed a declaration known as the "Bali Concord II" in which they agreed to pursue closer economic integration by 2020.

According to the declaration, "an ASEAN Community" would be set upon three pillars, "namely political and security cooperation, economic cooperation, and socio-cultural cooperation...for the purpose of ensuring durable peace, stability and shared prosperity in the region." The plan envisaged a region with a population of 500 million and annual trade of US$720 billion. Also, a free trade area would be established in the region by 2020. ASEAN's leaders also discussed setting up a security community alongside the economic one, though without any formal military alliance.

During the same meeting, the People's Republic of China and ASEAN have also agreed to work faster toward a mutual trade agreement, which will create the world's most populous market, with 1.7 billion consumers. Japan also signed an agreement pledging to reduce tariff and non-tariff barriers with ASEAN members.

November 2004 summit

The summit was held in Vientiane, Laos on November 29, 2004.

Thailand issues

Prior to the ASEAN summit, Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra publicly threatened to walk out of the meeting if any member states raised the issue of the Thai government's handling of the insurgency in south Thailand. He stated "If the topic is raised, I will fly back home". [] This is notable since leaders have often shown solidarity with each other over high profile issues such as East Timor and Myanmar's handling of Aung San Suu Kyi. Furthermore, one of the principles on which ASEAN was founded is a stated principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of other member states. Any tension has been kept from the public view and leaders have avoided confrontational statements in public.

Indonesia (the world's most populous Muslim country) and Malaysia however were particularly vehement in their condemnation over the Thai government's handling of the events in south Thailand with a former Malaysian Prime minister going to the extent of suggesting that the Southern Thai states should be given autonomy power. The Malaysian foreign minister further was quoted as saying that there is no such thing as absolute non-interference. It is thought that Thaksin's statement was made following the Malaysian government's passing of an opposition resolution condemning the Thai government for the death of at least 85 Muslim protestors in south Thailand.

Laotian spokesman Yong Chanthalangsy stated "I think we have a golden rule, that is non-interference in the internal affairs of each other." He added "It is a courtesy among the leaders, among the ministers, that if one of the leaders does not wish to discuss a question, all the leaders will respect it."

Myanmar issues

Also prior to the 2004 summit, Myanmar has taken steps to rehabilitate itself by releasing up to 9,000 prisoners who were imprisoned under the old junta. Myanmar's new leader General Soe Win will be attending the conference and foreign minister Nyan Win has already made pre-summit press releases on Myanmar's continuing commitment for the roadmap to democracy.

Myanmar was due to hold the chair of ASEAN in 2006. This however had created criticism from various factions. The United States and the European Union publicly announced that they might boycott any ASEAN-elated event if Myanmar was the chair. In July 2005, during an ASEAN foreign minister meeting in Vientiane, Myanmar decided to postpone its turn. The Philippines, the country next in line, instead held the ASEAN chair in 2006.

Apart from the US, various ASEAN lawmakers have called Myanmar's membership to be stripped due to its poor human rights record. [ [] Dead link|date=March 2008]

December 2005 summit

The 2005 edition was being held from December 12 to 14 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Seven main issues were discussed during the Summit. The issues are:
* the spread of bird flu
* southern Thailand conflict
* democracy in Myanmar
* crude oil prices fluctuation and poverty
* investment and trade
* ASEAN Charter

Immediately after the summit ended, the inaugural East Asia Summit was held.

January 2007 summit

The summit was originally set to be hosted on Cebu island in the Philippines from December 10 to 14. However on December 08, organizers decided to move the summit schedule to January 12-15, 2007 due to Typhoon Seniang. Cebu Metropolitan Area (composed of Cebu City, Mandaue City, Talisay City, and Lapu-Lapu City) jointly hosted varied events of the summit. The actual conference was held at the Cebu International Convention Center in Mandaue City while the Shangri-La Mactan Island Resort & Spa in Lapu-Lapu City provided accommodations for delegates and venues for smaller meetings.

On the first day of the summit, the member countries of ASEAN signed five agreements pertaining to continuing integration of ASEAN and enhancing political, economic and social cooperation in the region: [cite press release|title=ASEAN Leaders Sign Five Agreements at the 12th ASEAN Summit, Cebu, the Philippines, 13 January 2007|publisher=ASEAN Secretariat|date=2007-01-13|url=|accessdate=2007-01-28|quote=On the first day of the 12th ASEAN Summit, five Agreements have been signed by ASEAN leaders - reinforcing their commitment in the continuing integration of ASEAN and enhancing political, economic and social cooperation in the region.]
*Cebu Declaration Towards a Caring and Sharing Community
*Cebu Declaration on the Blueprint for the ASEAN Charter
*Cebu Declaration on the Acceleration of the Establishment of an ASEAN Community by 2015
*ASEAN Declaration on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers
*ASEAN Convention on Counter Terrorism

November 2007 summit

The 13th ASEAN Summit was held from November 18 to 22 in Singapore. The theme was "One ASEAN at the Heart of Dynamic Asia".

The key theme of the discussions was set to be on "Energy, Environment, Climate Change and Sustainable Development". In line with the theme, the ASEAN Leaders' Declaration on Environmental Sustainability was signed at the 13th ASEAN Summit and a proposal to work on a Singapore Declaration on the Environment was issued at the 3rd East Asia Summit.

The leaders had endorsed the ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint which will help chart concrete targets for establishing a single market and production base in the ASEAN region by 2015.

The summit marking the 30th anniversary of ASEAN-EU ties was held on November 22.

Other documents that had be negotiated and signed:
*ASEAN Mutual Recognition Agreement on Architectural Services
*ASEAN Framework Arrangement for the Mutual Recognition of Surveying Qualifications
*Protocol to Implement the Sixth Package of Commitments under the ASEAN Framework Agreement on Services
*Agreements on trade and areas of cooperation with ASEAN Dialogue Partners


External links

Official and special interest:
* [ ASEAN Official Website]
* [ 13th Summit Official Website]
* [ 12th Summit Official Website]
* [ 12th Summit Special News Site]
* [ 12th ASEAN Summit Special Coverage Site]
* [ ASEAN Quick Guide and General Info]
* [ Special Coverage Site]
* [ Special Coverage Site]

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