ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations)
The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), composed of ten countries (Brunei, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, and Vietnam) is an important forum for regional cooperation. ASEAN maintains an institutionalised cooperation process with China, Japan and the Republic of Korea (ASEAN + 3). The last (19th) ASEAN summit was held in November 2011 in Bali, Indonesia. Secretary General is currently former Thai foreign minister Dr. Surin Pitsuwan (2008-2012).
The relations between the EU and ASEAN are based on a 1980 cooperation agreement on trade, economic relations and development (the EC-ASEAN Co-operation Agreement). A regular formalised dialogue at ministerial level was introduced in 1978 and takes place every two years (ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting, AEMM). The last meeting of the EU and ASEAN foreign ministers was held in Jakarta in March 2005. In the past decade the volume of trade between the EU and ASEAN has increased notably. The EU is currently ASEAN’s third largest trading partner, accounting for 14 per cent of the combined volume of trade of all ASEAN states.
The ASEAN Charta was signed in 2007, 40 years after the establishment of the organization. This Charta makes it a legal entity. The long-term objective of ASEAN is the creation of an Asian Community by 2015, made up of three pillars (the Asian Security Community, the ASEAN Economic Community and the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community). The human rights organ (ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights, AICHR) also established the ASEAN Commission on the Rights of Women and Children, ACWC.
Formal dialogue between EU and ASEAN is held every two years since 1978, cooperation is continually intensified. The EU seeks becoming a member of TAC (Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation) and negotiations for a free trade agreement with ASEAN.
ARF (ASEAN Regional Forum)
The ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) is the only permanent multilateral body in the Asian-Pacific region dealing with security issues. It comprises the ten ASEAN member states and the ten ASEAN dialogue partners (Australia, Canada, China, the EU, India, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Russia and the United States), as well as Mongolia, North Korea, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea and Timor-Leste. The ARF was set up by ASEAN in 1994 as a discussion forum for security policy matters. Apart from the annual meetings at the ministerial level, experts’ meetings are also held which focus, inter alia, on confidence-building activities, preventive diplomacy, transnational crime, piracy and disaster relief. In the future the ARF could assume a role comparable to that played by the OSCE.
The East-Asia-Summit was established in Kuala Lumpur in 2005 and works as forum for strategic dialogue. Members are the ten ASEAN states as well as China, Japan, South Korea, Mongolia, India, Pakistan, Australia, New Zealand, Russia and the USA. The 6th East-Asia-Summit took place in November 2011 in Bali, Indonesia.
APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation)
The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), founded in 1989, is composed of 21 Asian-Pacific states (Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, People's Republic of China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Republic of the Philippines, Russia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, USA and Vietnam). It was set up with the aim of creating a free trade zone covering all sectors of trade, which is to be implemented between the industrialised APEC countries by 2010 and between the developing APEC members by 2020. National action plans were set up to achieved this goal and are being reviewed every year. The last summit took place in November 2011 in Honolulu, Hawaii under the title “Towards a Seamless Regional Economy”.
TPP (Transpacific Partnership)
The Transpacific Partnership (TPP) is a free trade agreement, established by Brunei, Chile, New Zealand and SIngapore. Today Australia, Malaysia, Peru, Vietnam and the USA are also TPP member states. Goal of the organization is economic integration in the Asian-Pacific region.
SAARC (South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation)
The South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) was set up in 1985. It comprises eight South Asian states (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka). SAARC mainly pursues economic, social and cultural goals. In 2006 the South Asian Free Trade Association (SAFTA) entered into force, with a transitional period of seven to ten years envisaged for the implementation of the agreed dismantling of tariffs. Contradictory positions and bilateral conflicts (especially between India and Pakistan) curtail the SAARC’s opportunities for action in many areas. The EU first took part as an observer at the 14th SAARC summit in New Delhi in 2007. The 17th summit took place in November 2011 in Addu City, Maledives.
Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO)
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) was established by China, Kazakhstan, Kirgizstan, Tadzhikistan and Russia in 1999. Uzbekistan joined in 2001. Observers are India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan. THE SCO, with office in Beijing, engages in economic, security and cultural cooperation.
ASEM (Asia-Europe Meeting)
The Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) is not a regional organisation in the strict sense but a process based on the idea of partnership between the EU and Asian countries. Established in 1996 in Bangkok, members are the 27 EU member states and the European Commission, the 10 ASEAN member states Brunei, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Burma/Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and the ASEAN secretariat as well as China, Japan, South Korea, India, Pakistan, Mongolia and – since 2012 – Russia, Australia and New Zealand.
The comprehensive ASEM process pursues political, economic, social and cultural goals. Global issues such as environment and climate, energy security, migration, human rights, counter-terrorism as well as economic and financial cooperation are discussed. The 9th Asia-Europe Summit Meeting will be held in November 2012 in Vientiane, Laos.
ASEF (Asia-Europe Foundation)
The Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF) with headquarters in Singapore is the only permanent institution of ASEM with the aim of promoting relations between the ASEM states particularly in the cultural-scientific sphere. Established in 1997 it engages in the fields of economy, society, environment, sustainable development, public health, arts and culture, education and scientific cooperation, human rights, good governance and intercultural dialogue. Goal of the foundation is the strengthening of ties between Europe and Asia.