It’s multilateral summit season in the Asia-Pacific.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern heads to Singapore on 14–15 November for the East Asia Summit, before travelling Papua New Guinea to attend the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting on 17–18 November. She will be joined by Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Winston Peters.
Trade and Export Growth Minister David Parker will attend the APEC Ministers’ Meeting in Port Moresby on 15 November.
Minister of State for Trade and Export Growth Damien O’Connor will attend the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Ministerial meeting in Singapore on 12–13 November.
Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump has announced he will not be attending either APEC or the EAS – US Vice-President Mike Pence will be attending instead. It will be the first time since 2013 that a US president will not be attending the two summits.
Here are some basic things to know about these major events in the Asia-Pacific political calendar.
East Asia Summit
What: The East Asia Summit (EAS) is annual leaders’ forum focused on regional cooperation and strategic dialogue on security, political, and economic issues.
The EAS has 18 members: The 10 ASEAN countries (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam) as well as Australia, New Zealand, China, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea, the United States and Russia.
The EAS membership represents around 54 percent of the world’s population and accounts for 58 percent of global GDP. The event can only be chaired by an ASEAN member. New Zealand attended the first EAS in 2005.
When: 14–15 November 2018
Host: Singapore, as the 2018 ASEAN chair.
What: The APEC Summit is an annual regional economic forum founded in 1989 with 21 Asia-Pacific members, focused on regional economic integration, and trade and investment liberalisation. New Zealand is a founding member.
At present, all member economies border the Pacific Ocean. Leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum have also been invited to the summit for the first time. Participants are certain to discuss the role of APEC in the current “trade war” environment.
APEC is of particular importance to New Zealand, which will be hosting APEC in 2021. That will be the largest event hosted by the New Zealand Government.
When: 12–18 November 2018
Host: Papua New Guinea. This year marks the first time the country is playing host, after 25 years of APEC membership.
What: The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a regional grouping, comprising 10 member-states in Southeast Asia, focused on regional collaboration and prosperity. The ASEAN Summit is a semi-annual gathering of these 10 leaders. ASEAN also conducts one meeting per year with its external dialogue partners, including New Zealand.
When: 11–16 November 2018
Chair: Singapore. The chairmanship of ASEAN rotates among the 10 member-states annually. Singapore will hand over the reins to Thailand at the end of the ASEAN Summit.
Key issues: The “Fourth Industrial Revolution” is among the issues on ASEAN’s agenda. The region is projected to become the fourth-largest economy in the world by 2030, after the United States, China and the European Union. The digital economy of ASEAN is projected to grow to reach US$200 billion by 2025.
Other issues for ASEAN include:
- Regional economic integration;
- the RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership) trade agreement;
- the Indo-Pacific
- the code of conduct for disputed areas in the South China Sea;
- the bolstering of regional cyber-security;
- human rights issues in Myanmar’s Rakhine state
- the ASEAN Economic Blueprint.
– Asia Media Centre
Readings on NZ-ASEAN relations
- Relations and Relationships: 40 years of people movements from ASEAN to New Zealand, by Kate McMillan
- New Zealand and ASEAN: A History, by Malcolm McKinnon
- Mind the Gap: New Zealand and regional institutions in Southeast Asia, by David Capie