The Asean community – Emerging region in the global community of nations

By Ambassador® George SAVUICA

Articolul a fost tradus in limba indoneziana si publicat in cotidianul de limba indoneziana “Sinar Harapan”         

                           

At a recent seminar organized by the Commission of Prospective Studies of the Romanian Academy on the theme called “The Future of the World Economy”, in my current position as President of the Romanian Institute for European – Asian Studies (IRSEA) I have presented the paper called “THE ASEAN COMMUNITY – EMERGING REGION IN THE GLOBAL COMMUNITY OF NATIONS”.

IRSEA is aRomanian independent think-tank, working for a more robust interaction between Europe and Asia, founded in 2008.

It is my pleasure to share with Sinar Harapan readers some of the examined and emphasized arguments conducing to the idea that what is happening now in South East Asia, particularly in ASEAN region, is something of great importance confirming the content of the economic studies as well as the international political perception that a consensus has been reached in the sense that the economic power is gradually, but surely, shifting towards East and South East Asia.

All these are taking place under the circumstances of consolidating the democratic processes in the region as well as of the great and successful efforts of regional integration. The national policies pursued by these governments created a much more robust internal structure as a result of which the South East Asian countries did not feel so much the impact of the new crisis of the last two years.

South East Asia has a particular role and place within “The Future of the World Economy” as a result of the developments and evolutions towards regional integration, that started based on successive prospective visions since ASEAN’s foundation in 1967 and which during the next four years, more exactly by 2015, will reach a significant level- creation of ASEAN Community, which is rising on three pillars: ASEAN political-Security Community – PSC, ASEAN Economic Community – AEC and ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community – ASCC.

Indonesia has been taken as an example for an emerging economy in South East Asia, which is a participant to the creation of the ASEAN Community by 2015, having in mind that this is the single country from this region which became member of G-20 and which appears on all lists of markets or emerging groups elaborated by eminent economic analysts from different countries as well as from specialized international organizations.

There are also lists having Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines as examples of emerging economies.

Indonesia is positioned as having the fastest growing economy in Asia, after China, India and Vietnam. Indonesia’s political stability and the government’s liberalization of the economy coupled with sound fiscal and debt management have provided a conducive environment for the country to achieve robust economic grow

 By fully implementing the ASEAN Community, but mostly by creating the ASEAN Economic Community, replacing the miracle of “Asian Tigers “and in parallel with other emerging economies, as single entities, such as China, India and Brazil a new phenomenon will appear in this region, in a certain way similar but not identical to the one existing in Europe, i.e. an emerging institutionalized economic power at regional level.

This positive development signifies an important step forward for South East Asia to be able to promote with a greater added value its interests in the global community of nations. It is at the same time a new evolution for ASEAN from a regional economic association to a regional integrated aria. AEC will transform ASEAN into a single market making the whole region much more dynamic and competitive, fully integrated into the world economy.

Based on the real progress and assessments one can say that ASEAN Economic Community will be in 2015 an accomplished target. The President of Indonesia underlined that his country in its capacity this year as ASEAN chair has taken the implementation of AEC as one of his essential priorities of his mandate.

ASEAN and implicitly AEC are now operating in an ever more globalized climate, which requires a lot of efforts and real dedication.  Implementation of ASEAN Community is the most important factor for maintaining ASEAN’s role as driving force in the process of regional integration and creation of a new East and South East Asian cooperation architecture.

The closer the ASEAN Community is the quicker has to be the elaboration of a post 2015  ASEAN vision if the ASEAN Member States would like to constitute a real force in tackling the global issues and to ensure a successful path to the global community of nations.

My optimistic view on achieving all these important targets by ASEAN is based on my personal experience of being an active observer of ASEAN permanent developments from the year it was born. I can affirm that during its 44 years of existence ASEAN has passed through three important steps: exclusive economic regional organization; primarily economic regional organization with added political, security and social –cultural dimensions; and regional organization in full process of political, security, economic and socio-cultural integration.

In its first stage, ASEAN was quoted in different ways. Romania has recognized from the very beginning its status of an exclusive economic regional organization and not a substitute to SEATO as some other countries considered ASEAN to be.

ASEAN has quite rapidly managed to capture the attention and interest of world and regional powers; later it formed a unique architecture of an institutionalized dialogue with all important actors in the context of world and regional politics. All its dialogue partners accept and support ASEAN targets. Even more, all of them are involved directly or indirectly in the developments of the Association and in integration process in South East Asia. One may speak about a real competition in the development of an advanced and most advantageous relationship with ASEAN in order to assure their presence in the new Asian brand in political, economic, strategic and socio-cultural fields, as is the case of ASEAN Community. It shows therefore an increased responsibility of ASEAN to maintain a dynamic balance of power in the region.

I am very glad that presently we witness a consolidated approaching tendency between Europe and Asia and Asia and Europe, the channel being ASIA EUROPE MEETING (ASEM). On April 5 the 1st ASEAN – EU BUSINESS SUMMIT took place as an important and newly initiative being a part of the 18th ASEAN Summit. I had the honor to participate at the event.

In my view,Romania has to accelerate its position of accommodating to the developments in South East Asia. Based on the excellent traditional bilateral relations with South East Asian countries one expects Romania to go further and elaborate a vision at least on a medium term regarding also its individual engagement in the context of creation the ASEAN Community. Being a full member of the EU, which develops an active partnership with ASEAN, it should represent a background for Romania to promote its political, diplomatic, economic, military, cultural, and techno- scientific projects with ASEAN member countries.

* The Author is a career diplomat, specialized on South East Asia, with diploma from Moscow Institute for International Relations, Oriental Section, speaking Bahasa, Russian and English languages.  In 1967 joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Romania, which accorded his scholarship for learning diplomacy in Russia, being selected for such studies while he concluded the first year in Bucharest Law Faculty.  He was Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Pakistan and Indonesia and Charge d’Affaires a.i., with Letter of Cabinet, to Malaysia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Cyprus and Finland/Estonia. In the Ministry of Foreign Affairs he was Director for the Republic of Moldova, Secretary General of the Intergovernmental Committee to develop the Relations of Romania with the Republic of Moldova, Deputy Director and then Director for Asia – Pacific and DG for Asia – Pacific, Middle East, Africa and Latin America. He started his diplomatic career in Indonesia in 1971 as Attaché and rounded it up in2006 in the same country as Ambassador.

By retiring on pension, in 2006, after 40 years of diplomatic activity, he founded the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Romania – Malaysia and the Romanian Institute for European – Asian Studies, both of them being chaired by the Author.