In engaging with external partners, ASEAN needs to maintain its Centrality, both in words and, in deeds, amid rising geopolitical competition among major powers while stressing on the principles of openness, transparency, and inclusiveness.
The remarks were made by H.E. Prak Sokhonn, Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, during the Plenary Session of the 56th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) held in Jakarta, Indonesia on July 11 2023.
The Cambodian top diplomat further emphasised the need to further deepen regional economic integration through free, fair, open, and inclusive trade among Member States and with external partners.
In addition, he underscored the need for ASEAN to explore new sources of growth such as digitalisation, green transition, technology, and innovation in order to make ASEAN future-proof and future-ready.
According to a press release of the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, during the Plenary Session of the 56th AMM, the Ministers deliberated on ASEAN Community Building efforts vis-a-vis the evolving regional architecture under the theme “ASEAN Matters: Epicentrum of Growth” and Indonesia’s priorities centred around the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP).
The Ministers welcomed the progress made in achieving ASEAN’s deliverables for 2023, including the development of the ASEAN Community Vision 2045, the strengthening of ASEAN’s capacity and institutional effectiveness, and supporting Timor-Leste to become a full member of ASEAN.
The Ministers underlined the significance of upholding ASEAN Centrality and unity in ASEAN’s engagement with external partners. The Ministers looked forward to the signing of the Instrument of Accession to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in South Asia (TAC) by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on July 12, 2023, and welcomed the Chair’s effort to have Mexico, Panama, Serbia, and Spain accede to the TAC in September 2023 on the sidelines of the 43rd ASEAN Summit and Related Summits. The Ministers granted the status of the ASEAN Sectoral Dialogue Partnership to South Africa.
The Ministers exchanged views on regional and international issues of common concern and interest as well as other pressing issues that warrant joint attention and response.
The Ministers stressed on the strategic importance of safeguarding peace, security, stability, and prosperity in cooperation with all external partners. ASEAN-led mechanisms remain the fulcrum in facilitating constructive dialogue and cooperation, contributing to the development of the evolving regional architecture in line with the AOIP.