Development partner to Asean: Chile’s incorporation

DIPLOMATIC POUCH - Jose Miguel Capdevila (The Philippine Star) - August 29, 2019 - 12:00am

During the 34th ASEAN Summit celebrated in Bangkok last June, Chile was appointed as a new Development Partner of this organization being the second country after Germany to attain this status.

This political decision adopted by ASEAN represents a valuable recognition of Chile’s unwavering and long committed foreign policy towards the south east of Asia and its Organization. As stressed by the Foreign Minister of Chile, Teodoro Ribera, on the occasion: “Chile’s government appreciates and is thankful for this expression of friendship that will strengthen our ties with the ASEAN members. We believe that this new form of association represents a milestone and will bring prosperity to our nations through the opening of new markets.” 

ASEAN is a good example of quality-driven policies and clear-cut goals making it one of the most successful regional organizations in the international arena.  Since its inception in 1967, in the midst of the Cold War, ASEAN has been moving forward steadily, gaining experience and deepening the levels of understanding and compromise through a set of values and principles which are at the forefront of its success. In economic terms, figures are impressive: with a current GDP of US$ 3.2 trillion, making ASEAN the sixth largest global economy, being the world’s third largest workforce and 4th most popular FDI destination; sharing 7% of global exports (2016) and with a population of 620 million, this regional block is setting the pace to become one of Asia’s most relevant and influential actors in shaping the future of this region in the years to come.

Chile’s accession as development partner to ASEAN is the culmination of more than three decades of constant work with this region and draws from a strategic vision in which both the public and private sector along with the academe have made their contributions, thus paving the way forward to achieve the goals set forth. Currently, Chile has diplomatic relations with the ten countries of ASEAN.  Trade has been one of the key areas in expanding and deepening our engagement with this regional organization. Hence, Chile has Free Trade Agreements with Brunei and Singapore (2006), Malaysia (2012), Vietnam (2014), Thailand (2015) and more recently we ratified a commercial partnership with Indonesia and consultations are under way with the Philippines to subscribe a trade agreement. The commercial balance with ASEAN (2018) reached US$ 3.500 millions and the trend is soaring.  Likewise our shared values and political commitment is also expressed when Chile was accepted in 2015 to become a member of the Treaty on Amity and Cooperation   (TAC), thereby gaining more traction in our endeavours to develop new spheres of interaction with ASEAN countries.

Chile’s new status is also relevant in terms of the relationship between ASEAN and the Latin American region as it was clearly stated by Minister Ribera: “We shall seek promoting a constructive dialogue between Latin America and ASEAN pursuing mutual benefits for both regions and especially among ASEAN and the Pacific Alliance.”  In this regard, it is relevant to mention, for the sake of context, that Latin America and East Asia have been engaged since 1999, following an initiative of Chile and Singapore, in a fruitful political dialogue and cooperation through the Forum for East Asia–Latin America Cooperation (FEALAC).

In times of global uncertainties, more integration and  more cooperation are needed  to strengthen the core values that many countries, including Chile, believe are of the essence to  have a  fairer, more  balanced and interdependent  world,  where richer nations and the developing ones  are bound to work together in building up a more sustainable and prosperous planet to all. And definitely regional organizations such as the ASEAN, the Pacific Alliance, and others are called upon to play a relevant role in providing a counterbalance to the destabilizing forces gliding over the world’s political and economic dynamics at present times. 

Chile receives the decision to become a development partner with satisfaction and is willing to work closely with this regional block and its members in fostering and enhancing political dialogue, economic integration, and cooperation as a key factor to build trust, commitment, and a sense of purpose to this new stage of compromise with ASEAN. 

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( Jose Miguel Capdevila is the Ambassador of Chile.)

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