Established in 1967 in Bangkok, Thailand, with 5 founding members, ASEAN has grown steadily and admitted 5 more member countries. The Association became a Community on December 31, 2015.
Drawing outside attention
The international community has applauded ASEAN for its effective connectivity and its central role in Asia-Pacific regional structure.
The formation of the ASEAN Community has enhanced ASEAN’s strategic value and attracted partners’ attention to achieve the common goal of peace, stability, and development. 86 countries have sent their ambassadors to ASEAN, 9 of 11 partners have established diplomatic missions in ASEAN, and 50 ASEAN committees have been set up in third countries. Last year, ASEAN signed an extended document paving the way for Chile, Egypt, and Morocco to join the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia, raising the Treaty’s membership to 35.
ASEAN granted Switzerland Sectoral Dialogue Partner status and Germany Development Partner status. The Association continues to boost its consultative and cooperative relations with regional organizations: the Asia-Pacific Alliance, the Economic Cooperation Organization, and the Gulf Cooperation Council.
The US, a major partner, respects and supports ASEAN’s central role in shaping regional structure, and is committed to continuing assistance to ASEAN Community building. The US calls ASEAN an important economic partner, continues the ASEAN-US Connect initiative, encourages sustainable and fair economic growth, and maintains training programs for ASEAN youth and women, including the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) and Fulbright Scholarships. US President Donald Trump said he will attend regional events, including the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit (APEC) in Vietnam, and the ASEAN-US and the East Asia Summit in the Philippines later this year.
ASEAN mechanisms related to politics, security, and defense have the participation of world powers. The ASEAN Regional Forum born in 1994 has built a mechanism of dialogue and consultation in the region.
Economically, ASEAN has created a vast market of 630 million people with a combined GDP of US$3 trillion and a 4.7% annual growth. ASEAN is connected to other countries through Free Trade Agreements, forming a huge market of 3 billion people with a combined GDP of US$20 trillion.
Increased value and vitality of ASEAN
Based on achievements over the past 50 years, ASEAN is determined to promote comprehensive and pragmatic community connectivity in order to enhance the value and vitality of ASEAN and bring practical benefits to the region and each member country.
This year, ASEAN has set six priorities: build a people-targeted ASEAN; promote peace, stability, security, and maritime cooperation in the region; boost inclusive growth and growth based on creativity; enhance ASEAN’s self-reliance; make ASEAN a role model for regional cooperation; and strengthen ASEAN’s global role.