GCC-ASEAN Summit Highlights Importance of Joining Efforts for Peace, Security, and Stability

GCC-ASEAN Summit Highlights Importance of Joining Efforts for Peace, Security, and Stability By A Robin - October 22, 2023


The joint statement of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Welcomed the accession of all GCC Member States to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC), inspired by their common interests and the deeply-rooted historical ties between the two sides.

The participating Leaders called on exchanging views on regional and international issues of common interest and discussed ways to upgrade and develop their partnership to take advantage of the growth opportunities that can be utilized through cooperation between their two dynamic regions based on their shared visions for the future of their partnership and the values embodied in the United Nations (UN) Charter.

The statement stressed the importance of joining efforts to promote peace, security, stability and prosperity, through mutual respect and cooperation between countries and regions to achieve development and progress and maintain the rules-based international order based on adherence to international law, the UN Charter, including the principles of good neighborliness, respect for the independence, sovereignty, equality, territorial integrity, non-interference in their internal affairs, and refraining from the use of force, or the threat of use of force, and settlement of differences or disputes by peaceful means. The statement also called for undertaking consultations and explore cooperation on specific areas of common interest to implement the four priority areas of ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP), namely maritime cooperation, connectivity, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and economic and other possible areas of cooperation, where appropriate.

The statement urged to recognize the importance of oceans and seas as the key factors in driving growth and prosperity of the region and reaffirm the importance of maintaining and promoting peace, stability, maritime safety and security, freedom of navigation and overflight in the region, and other lawful uses of the seas and unimpeded lawful maritime commerce and to promote peaceful resolutions of disputes, in accordance with universally recognized principles of international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and the relevant standards and recommended practices by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

Leaders called for strengthening ties between the two sides, at the multilateral and bilateral levels, and in global fora by pursuing opportunities for sustainable development, peace, security and stability, and to navigate global and regional challenges and risks; to ensure sustainable supply chains, transport interconnectivity and communications; to strengthen food, energy and water security; as well as to build cooperation in green and renewable energy sources and technologies, tourism infrastructure, creating business opportunities and boosting trade and investment flows. In this regard, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is going to host the first GCC-ASEAN Economic and Investment Conference in Riyadh in the 1st half of 2024.

They also Welcomed the GCC-ASEAN Framework of Cooperation (2024-2028), which outlines measures and cooperation activities to be jointly undertaken by ASEAN and the GCC in the areas of common interest and for mutual benefit including political and security dialogue, trade and investment people-to-people exchanges, education, culture, tourism, media and sports. 

It also called for promoting trade and investment relations between the GCC and ASEAN, by enhancing public-private sector engagement and business-to-business relations between both regions, using available and new physical and online platforms, trade missions, exhibitions, seminars, conferences, and dialogues between their business representatives. They also called for exploring cooperation on key economic partnership priorities namely, strengthening regional market integration; sustainability and decarbonization; digital transformation and inclusivity, including Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), public-private sector engagement, and people-to-people ties.

Participants called for encouraging technical assistance and capacity building for entrepreneurs and start-ups in both sides, with particular focus on women, youth, and persons with disabilities to enable them to compete regionally and globally. They also called for promoting trade multilateral system, as embodied by the World Trade Organization (WTO), amidst disruptions in global trade markets and supply chains. They also welcomed Saudi Arabias bid to host Expo 2030 in Riyadh, highlighting the importance of organizing regional and international exhibitions to reenergize economic and cultural exchanges between the Gulf and Southeast Asia regions.

They stressed the importance of identifying cooperation in the development of sustainable and circular agriculture and in the promotion of sustainable food production and promote trade and investment opportunities in food and agri-based industries and encourage exchange of information, sharing of experiences, research, modern technologies and best practices, as well as through conducting capacity building activities in areas such as food and halal industry development, including various standards for halal food certification. They also agreed to encourage the sharing of best practices and capacity building programs in the areas of transport safety, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and transport regulations in aviation, land and maritime transport. They Reaffirmed the positive contributions of Southeast Asian manpower in building sustainable economic growth and development in the GCC region, and encourage collaboration to promote orderly, safe, regular, and responsible labor mobility, while strengthening cooperation to combat trafficking in persons in relation to recruitment practices. The participants agreed to promote dialogue among civilizations and cultures to enhance trust, and advance mutual understanding and greater respect for diversity, thus contributing to a culture of peace.

The statement called for promoting awareness of GCC and ASEAN traditions, arts, heritage and cultures, through cultural festivals, art exhibitions, film festivals, workshops, book fairs and other cultural events and activities, and through exchange of best practices and capacity building in the areas of museology, protection, conservation and restoration of cultural and historical heritage, as well as promotion of cultural creative industries, strengthening people-to-people ties through fostering mutual understanding, convening of networking and dialogue platforms, leadership training programs/workshops, student exchange programs and GCC and ASEAN sports initiatives. They stressed the important role that the GCC and ASEAN countries can play in hosting major sporting events, the summit welcomed the candidacy of Saudi Arabia to host the 2034 FIFA World Cup.

The leaders called for encouraging the exploration of cooperation to promote tourism, including heritage, cruise, sustainable and eco-tourism, medical and wellness, tourism, by undertaking benchmarking activities, joint tourism investments, and strengthening capacity-building including for MSMEs, in addition to exploring cooperation and information sharing on Information Communications Technology (ICT), especially in digital innovation, cybersecurity, data governance and cross-border data flows, and supporting both regions efforts toward a digitally-enabled economy that is open, secure, inclusive, and sustainable, and to further leverage ICT to enable innovation and entrepreneurship, as well as new technological developments including Internet of Things, 5G Networks, Artificial Intelligence and smart cities. They also called for exploring cooperation such as city-to-city partnerships between the ASEAN Smart Cities Network (ASCN) and the Smart Cities of the GCC Member States by fostering exchanges of best practices to help build cities that are resilient, innovative, well-connected, and technologically advanced.

They also agreed to encourage diplomatic contact by promoting training activities for diplomats and explore collaboration between the GCC and ASEAN Member States training centers. In addition to encouraging cooperation in science, technology and innovation, technology transfer and innovation models, including through policy study, capacity building, sharing expertise, joint research activity, and development on cross-sectoral areas such as health, communicable and emerging infectious diseases, environmental management, climate change adaptation and mitigation measures, agricultural technologies, alternative energy, biodiversity conservation, food processing, and advanced materials for development of value-added products.

They called on the importance of exploring cooperation in human resource development, particularly in higher education and technical vocational education and training (TVET), addressing out-of-school children and youth, digital education, digital skills and 21st century skills development as well as efforts to improve the quality of education and training through initiatives such as skills training for students and youth, capacity building for teachers and education practitioners, provision of scholarships, research, and the sharing of good practices and experiences, and explore cooperation to promote and protect the rights and welfare of all children, through networking and exchange of policies, knowledge and best practices, and encourage collaboration in promoting gender equality and womens empowerment in the areas of eliminating all forms of violence against women, promoting women economic empowerment, as well as promoting the Women, Peace and Security agenda.

The statement stressed the importance of encouraging support to empower persons with disabilities and older persons through the implementation of the ASEAN Enabling Masterplan 2025: Mainstreaming the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Kuala Lumpur Declaration on Ageing: Empowering Older Persons and its regional action plan, including through sharing of knowledge and best practices, capacity building, and networking, and welcome initiatives to enhance strategies and approaches to alleviating poverty and addressing the needs of low-income households and communities, and vulnerable and marginalized groups. They also called for encouraging collaboration and coordination in building strong and sustainable recovery towards enhanced prevention, preparedness, detection and response initiatives for all health hazards and threats including effectively addressing emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases, zoonotic diseases, health impacts of climate change; and exploring technical and information exchanges on digital health technology and innovation, and on regional preparedness and response to public health emergencies.

The statement also welcomed initiatives to enhance GCC-ASEAN connectivity through sharing of best practices, as well as co-creating connectivity projects. Leaders also agreed to undertake consultations and explore cooperation on the implementation of the Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI) Work Plan IV (2021-2025) and GCC integration programs, including through knowledge sharing, institutional capacity building, technical assistance, and technology transfer in order to narrow the development gaps within and between ASEAN Member States, and enhance ASEANs competitiveness as a region to realize the goals of the ASEAN Community and advance regional integration.

The statement stressed the importance and urgency of promoting joint action including through the ASEAN Centre for Climate Change and similar GCC entities in mitigating climate change and adapting to its impacts, protecting the environment and developing low carbon and clean energy technologies, such as renewables, energy efficiency and conservation, carbon abatement and removal technologies. It also commended commitments expressed by the GCC and ASEAN countries at COP27 and call for an active participation at COP28, aimed at the implementation of commitments made, and affirm the importance of the underlying principles of the climate agreements, including equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities in the light of different national circumstances, approaches, needs, and priorities in implementing the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement. Additionally, the statement expressed support for the United Arab Emirates hosting COP 28, calling for an ambitious and inclusive outcome, with nature, people, lives, and livelihoods at the heart of climate action. Participants reaffirmed commitment to the Paris Agreement and, in view of COP28, stressed the importance of successfully concluding the first Global Stocktake, with an ambitious and forward-looking outcome. They expressed interest in working together towards a sustainable, just, affordable, inclusive and orderly energy transitions in line with the Paris Agreement, and welcomed Qatar hosting the International Horticultural EXPO 2023. They acknowledged Saudi Arabias Middle East Green Initiative (MGI), and its announcement to establish and host a dedicated MGI Secretariat and allocate $2.5 billion to support MGI projects and governance, and welcomed the announcement by Saudi Arabia about the establishment of an international water organization based in Riyadh, as well as the UAE water initiative to address the threat of global water scarcity, calling for further decisive global action.

The statement said that, in recognition of the important initiatives by ASEAN and the GCC in their respective regions, they decided to undertake mutual consultations by Ministers and relevant officials with a view to establish mutual cooperation, as appropriate.

The leaders thanked the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for hosting this historic summit and agreed to hold a GCC-ASEAN summit every two years, and added that they look forward to convening the next summit in Malaysia in 2025.


By A Robin - October 22, 2023

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