Explained | East Asia Summit

East Asia Summit
PM Narendra Modi reiterated the importance of East Asia Summit mechanism and reaffirmed India’s support to further strengthen it. Photo: Twitter / @narendramodi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi participated in the 18th East Asia Summit (EAS) held in Jakarta on September 7. PM Modi reiterated the importance of East Asia Summit mechanism and reaffirmed India’s support to further strengthen it.

The meeting adopted the EAS Leaders’ Statement on Maintaining and Promoting the Region as an Epicentrum of Growth and exchanged views on a wide range of regional and international issues. 

The meeting also reviewed the implementation of the EAS Plan of Action (POA) 2018-2022 and welcomed the adoption of the new EAS POA for the next five years.

What is East Asia Summit?

• The East Asia Summit (EAS) is the Indo-Pacific’s premier forum for strategic dialogue. It is the only leader-led forum at which all key partners meet to discuss political, security and economic challenges facing the Indo-Pacific, and has an important role to play in advancing closer regional cooperation.

• Established in 2005, EAS allows the principal players in the Indo-Pacific region to discuss issues of common interest and concern, in an open and transparent manner, at the highest level.

• Since its inception, it has played a significant role in the strategic, geopolitical and economic evolution of East Asia.

• It is also an important platform for furthering practical cooperation in the Indo-Pacific by building upon the convergence between ASEAN Outlook on Indo-Pacific (AOIP) and Indo-Pacific Ocean’s Initiative (IPOI). 

There are six priority areas of regional cooperation within the framework of the EAS. These are:

i) Environment and Energy

ii) Education

iii) Finance

iv) Global Health Issues and Pandemic Diseases

v) Natural Disaster Management

vi) ASEAN Connectivity. 

• India, being a founding member of the East Asia Summit, is committed to strengthening the East Asia Summit and making it more effective for dealing with contemporary challenges. India endorses regional collaboration in all six priority areas.

• Following the adoption of the Manila Plan of Action in 2017, maritime cooperation has been identified as an important area of cooperation under the EAS.

• The EAS calendar culminates in the annual Leaders’ Summit, which is usually held alongside ASEAN Leaders’ meetings in the fourth quarter of every year. In addition to the Leaders’ Summit, meetings of EAS Foreign Ministers and Economic Ministers are held annually. 

Members of East Asia Summit

• The EAS has 18 members — the ten ASEAN countries (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam) along with Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Russia and the United States. 

• ASEAN leads the forum, and the chair position rotates between ASEAN Member States annually. 

• According to estimates, EAS members represent 54 per cent of the world’s population and account for 62 per cent of global GDP.

Genesis of East Asia Summit

• The concept of an East Asia Grouping was first promoted in 1991 by the then Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad. 

• The final report of the East Asian Study Group in 2002, established by the ASEAN+3 countries (China, Japan and South Korea), recommended EAS as an ASEAN-led development limited to the ASEAN+3 countries. 

• However, the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting (AMM) held in Vientiane in July  2005 welcomed the participation of ASEAN, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, India and New Zealand, in the first EAS. 

• The US and the Russian Federation were formally included as members of the EAS at the 6th East Asia Summit held in Bali, Indonesia in November 2011.

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