Diversity and Inclusion in the Work Place

Jakarta, Indonesia, May 20, 2022 – With the aim to promote further international understanding of diversity and inclusion in the workplace among ASEAN youths, ASEAN Youth Organization, a leading non-profit and non-governmental organization in the Southeast Asian region, in collaboration with ASEAN Human Development Organization (AHDO) co-organized the Webinar “Diversity and Inclusion in the Workplace”.

This event was attended by hundreds of participants from different countries in the South-east Asia region. Senjaya Mulia, the Founder of the ASEAN Youth Organization opened the session and welcomed speakers to the event. He claimed that Diversity and Inclusion are the most important things to keep our community peaceful and we can live in harmony. Followed by Ms. Lenny Agustine, an AHDO member and the co-host of this event, who has shared with the participants that traditional and modern discrimination, racism and intolerance are happening around us, which imposes a threat to the balance in society. She encourages everyone to be part of the world in building awareness on this issue and is actively involved in combating racism, discrimination and intolerance.

Mr. Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, the President Commissioner of PT Pertamina (Persero), during the event, shared his experience on racial issues he faced a couple of years ago and shared on how to be a great leader. He quoted a famous leader, Martin Luther King, Power without Love is reckless and abusive, and Love without Power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is Love Implementing the demands of Justice, and Justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against Love. Mr Basuki also mentioned that as leaders, we should have the courage to give rewards and punishments and be ready to receive hatred. Increase our immunity to face these haters and people who want to push us down. Mr. Basuki also makes an essential point that it is necessary to enforce the laws and regulations to put into action. We need to work together to improve things, learning from people who have been discriminated against.

This event was also attended by an Australian Professor from the School of Social Sciences & Institute Fellow from University Western Sydney University. Professor Karen Soldatić has shared concepts and rights-based diversity and inclusion, strategies to promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace and recommendations for stakeholders. The session was followed by Ms. Sotheary You from Cambodia. She shared about how she works to increase Women’s Equality in Cambodia and presented how civil society organization and youth’s role in building a culture of diversity and inclusivity in the workplace.

Last, Ms. Nissi Taruli from FeminisThemis, shared the findings of research done by Jarum Kayu about Inclusion in the workplace in Indonesia. Based on the research on minority groups, especially women and persons with disabilities, she emphasized that inclusion is not just about providing accessibility. We must learn about the varying needs of each individual, the diversity of identities, and the diversity of access. Start to open up vast opportunities and open doors for people with disabilities who want to develop in their professional work. Don’t forget about the surrounding Human Resources support systems, especially for the Deaf, such as sign language interpreters, typists, and note-takers. A decent and inclusive workplace is to humanize minority groups and marginalized groups.

The webinar serves as a platform for aspiring young changemakers of ASEAN to build positive energy, new insights, and deeper knowledge on diversity and inclusion in the workplace so the ASEAN youth can be the next Anti-Racism changemakers to amplify voices and raise awareness about Diversity and Inclusion mainly especially combating racism.

Ahmad Afryan, Project Development Head, ASEAN Youth Organization

ASEAN Youth Digital Forum Image

The Largest ASEAN Youth Digital Forum this year

In commemoration of the 54th ASEAN Anniversary, the ASEAN Youth Organization conducted the largest ASEAN Youth Digital Forum that was participated by more than 5,500 young people from ASEAN member states and some other countries in the world. The forum took place in a virtual zoom meeting and also live on the ASEAN Youth Organization Facebook Page.

The ASEAN Youth Digital Forum, with the theme of Youth & Digital Transformation: A Step Towards Digital Community presents a series of webinars and workshops on Digital Literacy, Cybersecurity, Virtual Cross-Border Internship in ASEAN, and Gig Economy

Many experts and professionals from UNICEF Vietnam, Center for Digital Society of University of Gadjah Mada,  ASEAN Chief Information Officer Association, Akamai Technologies Inc., SiberKreasi Indonesia, ASEAN Human Development Organizations, ASEAN Foundation, Grab Indonesia and many other partners were gracing this first initiative on the topic of Digital Transformation.

First Day of the Event

The AYDF 2021 event was opened by Ambassador Artauli Tobing, the Indonesian Representative to the ASEAN-IPR Governing Council. In the Webinar of Digital Literacy, she highlighted the importance of digital literacy and critical thinking, particularly

"to have more self-awareness and closer look to the content or messages that are shared. Youth is the one with the technological know-how and the generation that has contributed to the speed of technology",

however she also asked the youth to be patient to help the older generations operate the digital technology. 

In the following session of Workshop on Cybersecurity, Executive Director of ASEAN IPR, Mr. I Gusti Agung Wesaka Puja in his Keynote speech highlighted the Role of ASEAN Youth in Utilising Information Communication Technology (ICT) as Instruments of Peace. He mentioned that the youths would have a leading role and bring the ASEAN community towards sustainable peace.

Second Day of the Event

On the second day, the ASEAN Youth Digital Forum delivered the discussion on Virtual Cross-Border Internship in ASEAN and GIG Economy, where the young people should be aware of the opportunity in these areas. Agatha Lydia, the Executive Director of ASEAN Youth Organization during her opening remark on the session of Virtual Cross-Border Internship mentioned that as youths, we are considered as the generation that is agile and could easily adapt with the current shift to the digital world. However, other than this great opportunity, the digital world also has many threats. 

Senjaya Mulia, the Founder of ASEAN Youth Organization delivered the opening remark at the closing session of the AYDF on Panel Workshop of Gig Economy. He mentioned that digital literacy and digital skills are very important for all young people especially in this new normal situation where everything switched to digital. 

Senjaya also emphasized that this event aims to increase the awareness of the current development of digitalization in the South-east Asia Region, sharing knowledge and best practices on how young people could solve the digital problems, and inspire youth to start thinking on how they can benefit from digital development in ASEAN, especially in Education, Security, and Economy.  

As the largest Youth Organization in Southeast Asia, the AYO will keep its commitment to serve the community through programs and activities that empower young people in the region.

Featured Kallang River

Exploring Singapore’s Historical Kallang River

Being one of the most visited countries in the world, Singapore surely has a lot of fascinating tourist destinations to visit. If you are keen on visiting natural landmarks such as the rivers, beaches, and so on you should definitely visit Kallang River, one of Singapore’s historical natural wonders.

Creative Thinking For An Innovative Business Technology: Industry 4.0

As we know that current technology is increasingly developed and there is progress where human life has been surpassed before by the change in the industrial revolution 1.0 in the process of producing goods, namely making everything with a steam engine. This discovery is very important, because before the advent of steam engines, at that time humans could only rely on muscle power, water power, and wind power to move anything.

Industrial Revolution 2.0.

This second industrial revolution took place in the early 20th century. At that time, production was already using machines. Muscle power has been replaced by steam engines, and now steam power has begun to be replaced with electric power. However, the production process at the factory is still far from the production process at the modern factory in one thing: transportation. The transportation of products inside the factory is still heavy, so that kinds of large items, such as cars, must be produced by assembling in the same place. At this time humans have begun to create cars, motorcycles and other means of transportation.

Industrial Revolution 3.0.

Over time this life has entered the era of the industrial revolution 3.0 where humans are producing something starting to use computers. This third revolution is triggered by a moving machine, which thinks automatically: computers and robots.

Industry 4.0.

And now we have entered the industry 4.0 era where experts believe this era is an era of the Industrial Revolution 4.0 because there are many new innovations in Industry 4.0, including the Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data, 3D printing, Artificial Intelligence (AI), driverless vehicles, genetic, engineering, robots, and smart machines. Currently, there are 5 countries that have used robots as human replacement machines including:

1. South Korea

According to information the majority of robots in South Korea are used in the industrial sector and electronic and digital manufacturing. South Korea has also become the most advanced country in the world in terms of technological infrastructure. South Korean electronic products have also dominated the world, from sophisticated cellphones, plasma televisions, LCDs, to semiconductors. 

In addition, Korea also has produces robots that are dubbed as a substitute for human labor, they can be in the form of animals, or in the form of other sophisticated machines. The robot can be found in various industrial areas and there are even people who have used robots in their homes to meet household needs such as washing clothes, taking goods both light and heavy loads. Korea is also intensively developing future strategic industries such as Nanotechnology, Biotechnology, Information Technology, Robotics and space technology. 

The first success of South Korea’s exports occurred in exports of light industrial products such as textiles and apparel, electronic components, plywood, wigs, and intermediary goods.

2. Singapore

Almost 90% of robots in Singapore are used as replacement machines for human workers based on the latest information. Singapore already has 488 robots for 10,000 workers.

3. Germany

Robot machines in Germany have reached 309 in the automotive industry.

4. Japan

Currently Japan uses 303 robot machines per 10 thousand workers to make cars.

5. Denmark

Entrepreneurs in Denmark use 211 robots per 10 thousand workers, which has reached 25% of total production.

Besides that, one of the biggest things in the Industrial Revolution 4.0 is the Internet of Things. In the era of the Industrial Revolution, 4.0 produced “smart factories” and can be said to be the era of robotic. In a modular, intelligent structure factory, cyber-physical systems supervise physical processes, create virtual copies of the physical world, and make decisions that are not centralized. Nowadays technological advances are increasingly indicated where everyone can achieve everything in a very instant manner, all can be accessed through the internet network. 

The public currently relies on gadgets as a tool to communicate and search for information as well as in the planning of the packaging process of the product and the manufacture of the product itself in the field of entrepreneurship. Current developments in information technology include the development of IT infrastructures, such as hardware, software, data storage technology, and communication technology. 

In the era of industry 4.0, many rely on information technology in all fields from economics, education, health, government, and others. Because information technology greatly facilitates humans in producing, processing data and disseminating information, so information technology in this era is very fast developing. 

The development of information technology so that human labor can turn into mechanical power, apart from the speed of engine power is also more guaranteed accuracy and success in working instantaneously. The process can provide useful insights for factory management. Data is processed with sophisticated tools (analytics and algorithms) to produce logical information. The data that is processed can also help consider the problems seen and not seen in industrial plants.

Written By

Avradya Mayagita

ASEAN Youth Conference

ASEAN Youth Conference 2019

ASEAN Youth Organization conducted a conference for youth leaders and change-makers in Bangkok, Thailand on 5-8 November 2019. The event was calling all young generations aged 17-27 years across Southeast Asia who wants to contribute to making changes on issues related to the three pillars of ASEAN: ASEAN Political and Security Community (APSC), ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), and ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC).

ASEAN Youth Organization is an international non-partisan, non-profit, and non-governmental organization established to promote international understanding and goodwill parallel to the ASEAN Motto and constitutes one vision, one identity, and one community. AYO’s vision is to create a world where youth exhibit a heightened interest in ASEAN through our activities that Empower Youth, Engage communities to instill and implement ideas that enable Positive Sustainable Change.

ASEAN Youth Conference
ASEAN Youth Conference

High-level speakers and practitioners from the three pillars of ASEAN will attend the conference not just to give presentations, but also act as moderators to educate the youths. Moreover, the discussion will also be held to stimulate the critical thinking ability of the youths. Ergo, making a bigger #IMPACT for the lives of the youths and ASEAN Community.

After the event ends on October 26th, 2019, the participants will be given tasks and assignments for further implementation of the actions planned at the conference. The delegates will be given to implementing the project proposal with the help of the A.Y.O country representative and shall later be evaluated by A.Y.O officers.

Pollution in the Rural Environment and Solution

Pollution in the Rural Environment and Solution. During my role at the Center for Sustainable Rural Development (SRD), an NGO supporting sustainable development, while alleviating inequality and poverty, I have opportunities to work for the balance of Environment and Society of the most vulnerable groups in Vietnam, from poor women, ethnic groups, children and people with disabilities.

Philippine Economic Problems : various contributing factors and it’s correlation between Poverty and Health

Good economical conditions are probably one of the most important factors needed to ensure stability, peace amongst nations and thriving human culture. But we can’t deny the fact that most countries in Southeast Asia are suffering from different economical issues and disparity. Inspite of the technological advancements of this modern day, why is it there are still countries suffering from economic crisis?  Why is it people in some countries having faster economic growth still suffers from poverty? Economic disparity amongst ASEAN country is probably one of the main agendas that should be tackle this year. Even without any information to back it up we can’t deny the fact that poverty is one of the main problem we are facing today. These economic issues can furthermore  lead to other problems in socio-cultural pillar of ASEAN.

These economic issues that most countries has face can be link to the economic problems of the Philippines. Philippines is an archipelagic country which are made up mostly of more than 7,000 islands located in relation to many of Southeast Asia’s main water bodies: the South China Sea, Philippine Sea, Sulu Sea, Celebes Sea, and Luzon Strait ,it is also rich and abundant in natural resources and has a high level of biodiversity. It is also a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nation since the ASEAN was founded on August 1967. The Philippine economy is an example of mixed economy which includes a variety of private freedom, combined with centralized economic planning and government regulation. According to the 2017 estimate of the International Monetary Fund’s statistics, Philippines ranks as the world’s 34th largest economy by nominal GDP, it is also the 13th largest economy in Asia and the 3rd largest economy in ASEAN after Indonesia and Thailand. Its culture like other Southeast Asian countries was influenced by the European and American power, making it a new home of diverse culture and ethnicity. But despite of all of these claims why is it most of its people are still suffering from poverty?

Despite of the economic growth, we can’t deny the fact that poverty rates are still on its highest, even though Philippines has a fast growing economy the declination of poverty rates is very sluggish. Thus, poverty is also linked to certain economic problems that we cannot ignore, these problems also are the main reason why Filipinos suffered from poverty. These economic problems are the higher rate of unemployment, lack of education, insufficient facilities and poor infrastructure, dependence of overseas remittances and corruption.

The unemployment rate, according to the report published by the Trading Economics “the unemployment rate of the Philippines dropped to 5.4 percent in the September quarter of 2018 from 5.6 percent a year ago. The number of unemployed persons went down by 50 thousand to 2.32 million while the number of employed increased by 488 thousand to 40.66 million. Meanwhile, the labor force participation rate declined to 60.1 percent from 60.6 percent. Unemployment Rate in Philippines averaged 8.41 percent from 1994 until 2018, reaching an all time high of 13.90 percent in the first quarter of 2000 and a record low of 4.70 percent in the fourth quarter of 2016”. Even if the unemployment rate of the Philippines this year dropped it is still higher in comparison with our Asia-Pacific neighbours, Malaysia has 3.4 percent, 2.3 percent in Thailand, and 3.4 percent in Singapore. In South Korea, it was 3.5 percent, Taiwan, 4.3 percent, China, 3.9 percent and Vietnam, 5.6 percent and it cannot still erase the fact that it still don’t have enough job opportunities that can support all the Filipinos, that’s why only few Filipinos seeks job within the country and enter the labor force while the rest find jobs overseas while others ending up leaving the labor force and become unemployed or underemployed. One of the best example for this are the college graduates especially those who were a nursing graduate. Thousands of nursing graduates still don’t have a job because of oversupply of labor force in the field, and also the country’s education system continues to produce college graduates whose skills don’t necessarily fit with what is in demand in the job market. Along with this is the growing population of the Philippines in which  the pace at which jobs are created simply cannot cope up with steady supply of graduates whom many will find themselves unemployed, as a result many nursing graduates fail to land their dream jobs. Many Filipinos also whom are unemployed wait for job opportunities abroad, and many families depend on remittances from family members who are staying abroad.

Because of the growing number of Filipinos who worked overseas, the Philippines now ranked as the third largest generator of international worker’s remittances, behind only India and China. Recently, it surpassed Mexico by a margin to become the third largest remittance receiver country. According to the information from the World Bank’s data on immigrant remittances that it analyzes. Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas data on Filipino international remittances received for the whole year of 2017 amounted to $28.06 billion. According to a report, “this inflow is a substantial contribution to the country’s dollar earnings, providing a substantial prop to the national economy”. The economic growth of the Philippines can primarily be associated to the remittances from the overseas Filipino workers, as well as the growth in the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) sector. One of the problems that the Philippine Government should be taken care of is the corruption because even if a country has faster economic growth but it’s money is not distributed properly to its sector it will still not become progressive and also I think the country should not be overly dependent of overseas remittances from Filipinos living abroad because it just making the nation vulnerable to external shocks. That’s why the current administration should encourage value addition production and manufacturing and build industries for the Filipinos in order to increase employment opportunities.

One of the factors also why Filipinos suffered from poverty is the lack of education. If you can’t read or do basic math, if you can’t show up for work and apply yourself, you will not have a job. You will be poor. Based on the 2017 Annual Poverty Indicators Survey (APIS), about nine percent of the estimated 39.2 million Filipinos aged 6 to 24 years old were out-of-school children and youth (OSCY). OSCY refers to family members 6 to 14 years old who are not attending formal school; and family members 15 to 24 years old who are currently out of school, not gainfully employed, and have not finished college or post-secondary course. One of the main cause that affects children’s education is that the insufficient and poor facilities this signifies that students are not receiving their rights of having a sufficiently available and well-maintained school facilities. Indications of having these poor facilities are non-working or poorly maintained public comfort rooms, lack of classrooms, overcrowding in classrooms, poor ventilation, unsanitary and crowded canteens and more. Also some children from mountainous area especially the ethnic groups don’t have access to education.

These economic problems may also be seen in some ASEAN countries. In fact ,according to a report, almost 90 percent of people living in extreme poverty in Southeast Asia are in Indonesia and the Philippines. This issue may also lead to other problems such malnutrition. Merriam Webster defines malnutrition as the unhealthy condition that results from not eating enough food or not eating enough healthy food. Malnutrition is the very clear result of a countries overwhelming poverty. It is also the hottest issue for many years now. Because of poverty people are being deprived from accessing good and healthy foods which will eventually results to the increasing rate of mortality amongst children. Poverty limits the people from buying a decent meal for their family or even themselves or even if they do have money they will budget it and eat only once a day to save it for the another day.

These issues are just some of the  issues the country’s are facing today and it is not only be seen in the Philippines but also in the other countries in ASEAN especially those who are still developing countries. These issues also motivates me to participates in the ASEAN Youth Conference in order to use my voice to came up for a possible solution on how to eradicate these issues although it is not that easy to eradicate these issues because it needs a lot of time but the important thing is to lessen the percentage of people suffering from this. I am very passionate on helping and finding a possible solution to this problem because I myself also belongs to the percent of people suffering from poverty and I want to show them and prove to other people like me that poverty is not a hindrance at all, all we need is a helping hand so that we can finally achieved and make this world a better place to live in. Even though we came from different nations, even if we came from diverse origin but then we are unified amidst diversity because we have the same objective and that is to build a future, a future that is full of hope and fulfilment.

Rise ASEAN, One Vision, One Identity, One Community.

Written By

Gelbert Crescencio, Membership Loyalty Program Officer


ASEAN Integration is Reality or Just A Dream

For the past years, it cannot be denied that the world is experiencing a drastic shift from the industrial era to the information or digital age. This has brought about a change in almost every sector in society, as well as in the way people in society do things. It has influenced many aspects of the lives in many ways people from earlier times have probably not imagined. One of the most prominent changes that this technological era has shown people, is its impact on communication. Nowadays, it does not even take a minute for a message to reach another person. Establishing and maintaining connection, I believe, is the most significant contribution of communication to the world. Not only individuals but nations around the world as well, has become more connected and engaged with each other. The media and communication have enabled a community of different races to learn and develop a sense of sympathy and care towards other races.

One of the clear manifestations of this is the creation of ASEAN integration. The core aim of this initiative is to boost the economic progress of ASEAN Economic Communities (AEC) through a better flow of products, services, and manpower. This initiative also aims to produce globally competitive workers and professionals, by encouraging students to study in neighboring Asian countries. The Youth integration in this initiative aims not only to increase the student’s knowledge on a specific field of study, but to increase their appreciation towards other cultures, and increase their awareness and participation in issues that concern their country and other countries as well. Through this initiative, the youth can begin to develop the ability to think critically and participate in making decisions that could affect their future. Moreover, this will give them a sense of responsibility to contribute to the development of their respective countries.

With the constant and rapid development of technology, you may think that today’s generation or the so-called ‘Millennials’, is just a generation of entitled children who are just mere receptacles of information handed over by the older generation. However, I would beg to disagree. This generation, through the advancements in technology, has become a generation of youth who have extremely great potentials and bright futures. Many of these ‘millennials’ are young people who are capable of critically analyzing the underlying issues that their nation’s experience. Millennials are capable of recognizing the challenges that hinder the development of their country and able to think through different perspectives, whether it be politically, economically, or socially.

Communication is a vial aspect of cultural appreciation. Through the youth of today may come about language barriers and cultural differences, their ability to easily gather information about other cultures gives them an opportunity to explore and appreciate other cultures, through their own means. Today’s youth have developed a strong sense of volunteerism, charity, and nationality that is enough to promote intercultural participation and partnership in each nation. With all this being said, I, therefore, conclude that the ASEAN Integration is a reality constructed by all nations that aspire betterment of their whole wellbeing. Though there may be failures along the way, the spirit of cooperation and understanding has definitely paved a good path for ASEAN nations.

Written By

Nana Waehama, Academic Relations Manager

Volunteering in AYO Image


As we all know, volunteering is an activity which takes place through not-for-profit and community organizations and projects or local community and is undertaken to be of benefit to the community and the volunteer. One of organization that open for volunteering  is ASEAN Youth Organization, a one stop sharing organization in ASEAN.

ASEAN flag image

2017, a Special Year for ASEAN

2017 is a very special year for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). This regional organization is commemorating its 50th anniversary on August 8th. This year, ASEAN is also commemorating its 40th anniversary of partnership with couples of its strategic partners, the United States of America and the European Union. Since its foundation, ASEAN has been progressing on its role in the global dynamics such as security, economy, and social aspects through the high commitment of its member and intensive cooperation with its strategic partners.

Founded on August 8th,1967, ASEAN has become a huge market as it possesses more than 626 million people within its members. Founded by five countries, ASEAN has successfully maintained its regional stability and even could engage five more countries as members. With 10 countries, ASEAN has done many things for the development of the region and the country-members and became a strategic market for the global economy through its $2.4 Trillion economies of the members.

50 years of ASEAN signifies a well-established regional organization. Although there are several obstacles and challenges like South China Sea dispute, ASEAN can prove that Southeast Asia is a peaceful region in the midst of the diversity of the members’ political systems, culture, languages, and races. ASEAN also can prove that its authentic “The ASEAN Way” through its non-intervention from each member and consensus policymaking. Even though some people think that ASEAN could do more, a peaceful, worth, and promising Southeast Asia is answering all doubts.

The peaceful region shaped a strong very commitment and partnership within 10 members. Intra-ASEAN investment is currently the largest foreign direct investment of ASEAN. The average economic growth of its member is up to 5 percent. Today, ASEAN as an economic bloc represents the fifth largest economy in the world. It is even projected improving, and become the fourth-largest economy in 2050.

Partnership with the United States

ASEAN’s success in maintaining security and improving the economy is also enhanced by its strong cooperation with strategic partners. Furthermore, ASEAN’s success story makes it a trusted organization for other countries. It is already a consequence that other countries are interested in opening cooperation with ASEAN, one of which is the United States (U.S.).

U.S.-ASEAN partnership was started in 1977 when both were becoming dialogue partners. The cooperation became more robust in the 1990s when the U.S. launched economic programs that contain education, transfer of technology, and trade and investment. Afterward, the partnership became much stronger when Barack Obama took the administration and made a strategic rebalance of US efforts towards Asia.

Realizing the importance of its huge market, the U.S. initiated several strategic diplomacies. U.S. became the first non-ASEAN country to name an Ambassador to ASEAN back in 2008. In 2010, U.S. established Mission to ASEAN in Jakarta and appointed the first resident Ambassador in the following year. At the moment, U.S. and ASEAN have several strong cooperation in five general aspects including economic integration, maritime cooperation, ASEAN as emerging leaders, the opportunity for women, and addressing traditional challenges.

40 years of partnership provides huge impacts on the economic area. U.S. provides a huge number of investments in ASEAN. In 2015, the investment value was $12 million, or equivalent to an 11.1 percent share of ASEAN foreign direct investment from 2010 to 2015. The number of U.S. global companies is also doubling, reaching over 1.500 U.S. companies operating in ASEAN. All those huge numbers caused by ASEAN stability as proof of a trusted market.

Partnership with the European Union

One of the strategic partners of ASEAN is the European Union (EU). As a well-integrated regional organization, the EU is much needed by ASEAN as its example of a good regionalization. Otherwise, ASEAN’s large market is needed by the EU, even though the EU itself has a large market with approximately 510 million people.

The EU-ASEAN partnership was initiated in the ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting on July 5th-8th 1977. At that time, the forum agreed on formal cooperation and relationship with the European Economic Community (EEC). Later on, the cooperation was institutionalized in 1980 with the signing of the ASEAN-EEC Cooperation Agreement. Since then, the dialogue is rapidly growing until both produced the Nuremberg Declaration in 2007, a long-term vision and commitment to reach mutual benefits and common goals. Meanwhile, EU-ASEAN cooperation currently covers 3 areas, including political cooperation, economic cooperation, and socio-cultural cooperation.

The EU’s trust in ASEAN is shown at the high value of its investments and trades. In 2015, the EU invested around EUR 20 million, the second-largest after the Intra-ASEAN investment. That number is similar to 16.7 percent of ASEAN’s total foreign direct investment. EU is ASEAN’s second-largest trade partner after China, with a total share of 13.1 percent. Otherwise, ASEAN is the EU’s third-largest trade partner outside Europe, after the U.S. and China, with a total of EUR 201.6 billion in 2015.

The Optimism

With its commemoration of its foundation and initiation of a partnership with two strategic partners, ASEAN remains optimistic of its future. The experts consider ASEAN as the most advanced regional organization in the world after the EU. The status quo of its organization and its partnership shows that the future is very bright. 50 years of the organization shows the maturity of its operations, and 40 years of partnership with the U.S. and EU shows that ASEAN is trustable and promising.

But, the challenges will become much harder. The dynamics of international security that is harmed by terrorism, the uncertainty of the global economy, and the unpredictable political phenomenon could come every time. ASEAN should regard all of those commemorations as important preparations for future dynamics, for rapid improvement of the organization in the midst of all tough challenges, and for the maintenance and improvement of all-important relations including with the U.S. and EU.

Written By

Fadhil Hazmi M, Program Development Officer of A.Y.O. Indonesia