The ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific concept was agreed upon at the 34th ASEAN Summit Conference led by Thai Prime Minister, Y.M. General Prayut Chan-o-cha on Saturday (6/22). Superpower countries have the potential to influence peace, stability and efforts to achieve prosperity in the region. Now is the right time for ASEAN leaders to agree on "ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific" which reflects the unity and centrality of ASEAN in upholding the principles of peace, strengthening the culture of dialogue, and increasing cooperation.
As quoted from Kemlu.go, President Joko Widodo in his remarks thanked all ASEAN member countries for their valuable contributions in developing the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific concept. He viewed that the Outlook agreement will become the basis for ASEAN to develop concrete cooperation with various countries in the future. Meanwhile, other ASEAN leaders expressed high appreciation for the initiative and leadership of Indonesia in producing the Outlook.
ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific proposes 4 fields of cooperation. They are in the maritime field, connectivity, sustainable development and economics. In his speech, President Joko Widodo also emphasized that ASEAN must be strong, united and able to become a motor of peace and stability. In this connection, he appealed to the need for ASEAN to respond to the prolonged trade war between China and the United States, which has brought about widespread impact in some countries in the region. Economic cooperation with ASEAN partner countries also needs to be strengthened by encouraging the completion of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership -RCEP negotiations. To realize the economic integration in the region, ASEAN is urged to minimize non-tariff barriers so that Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) may enjoy more benefit from the region's economic integrity.
During the retreat session, President Joko Widodo raised the issue of the development of the situation at Rakhine State. He perceived that ASEAN's joint commitment is needed in overcoming the issue of returning refugees to Rakhine State. In accordance with the results of the ASEAN Summit in November 2018, ASEAN has given a mandate to the AHA Center to send a Needs Assessment Team in a bid to identify areas of cooperation in Rakhine State and to facilitate the process of repatriating refugees. Through the implementation of the preliminary needs assessment, time-frames are clearly needed to follow up on these efforts. The security in Rakhine State is a key factor for the implementation of the repatriation process.