Myanmar Hosts 25th ASEAN Summit

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On November 12th, the 25th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit held its opening ceremony in Myanmar’s capital Naypyidaw. The Summit is ASEAN’s highest policy-making body. This gathering is of particular importance since there is now less than one year to go before the implementation of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC).

The AEC seeks to “transform ASEAN into a single market and production base, a highly competitive economic region, a region of equitable economic development, and a region fully integrated into the global economy.” Collectively, ASEAN represents a market of some 600 million people, with a combined GDP of about US$2.5 trillion and upwards of US$1.5 trillion in trade flowing throughout the region.

The Summit is being attended by the heads of state of the 10 ASEAN member countries as well as other key leaders such as US President Barack Obama, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang.

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There are actually multiple meetings occurring during this period: the Summits with Dialogue Partners of ASEAN, the ASEAN Plus Three Summit, and the East Asia Summit.

During the opening ceremonies, Secretary-General of ASEAN, Le Luong Minh, stated that “2014 is the most important turning year deciding the achievement of the ASEAN Community by 2015 and Myanmar has played an important role in accelerating the implementation of the remaining action lines for the ASEAN Community building.” 2014 was the first time for Myanmar to hold the rotating ASEAN Chairmanship position, the country has chosen “Moving forward in Unity to a Peaceful and Prosperous Community” as its theme for its Chairmanship.

Key issues discussed at the summit include:

  • The mission of the ASEAN Community beyond 2015
  • The adoption of the Naypyidaw Declaration for the ASEAN Community’s Post-2015 Vision
  • The adoption of a Declaration on Strengthening the ASEAN Secretariat and Reviewing the ASEAN Organs
  • The South China Sea issue
  • The adoption of an ASEAN Joint Statement on Climate Change 2014

While ASEAN has made significant progress since its founding in 1967, the leaders in attendance acknowledged that there was still much work to be done. Myanmar’s President Thein Sein articulated this fact by stating that the regional bloc still “need[s] to enhance institutional efficiency, procedural coherence, effective decision making and systematic monitoring, evaluating, reporting, and follow up capacity.”

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