- The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, is a regional & intergovernmental organisation of 10 countries of southeast Asia.
- ASEAN was established in 1967 in Bangkok, Thailand, with the signing of the ASEAN Declaration (Bangkok Declaration).
- Its members are Thailand, Malaysia, Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia, Singapore, Myanmar, Philippines, Brunei and Vietnam.
- The organisation aims to accelerate the economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region through joint endeavours in the spirit of equality and partnership. They work towards the progress of the southeast Asia region.
- The group has played a central role in Asian economic integration, signing free trade deals with other regional economies.
- In 2020, ASEAN members joined Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea in signing the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a free trade agreement in the works since 2012.
- Yet experts say ASEAN’s impact is limited by a lack of strategic vision, diverging priorities among member states, and weak leadership. One of the bloc’s biggest challenges is developing a unified approach to China, particularly in response to territorial disputes in the South China Sea.
- In recent months, a primary challenge for ASEAN has been developing a response to the 2021 coup in Myanmar. The junta has violently suppressed protests, and the conflict with opposition forces has escalated into civil war. Yet the bloc’s response has been limited due to internal divisions.
Why in News?
- The 19th ASEAN-India Economic Ministers’ meeting was held recently in Siem Reap City, Cambodia.
- The Economic Ministers or their representatives from all the 10 ASEAN countries Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam attended the meeting.
- The Ministers noted that trade and economic relations between ASEAN and India are starting to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the two-way trade between ASEAN and India reached USD 91.5 billion in 2021 increasing by 39.2 per cent year-on-year.
- The Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to take collective actions to mitigate the economic impact of the pandemic and work towards a sustainable post-COVID-19 recovery.