Association of South East Asia Nations (ASEAN)

The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) is regional organization formed by the Governments of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand in 1967. It has since added Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam.


India’s Act East Policy focuses on water connectivity

April 14, 2021

India started the ‘Eastern Grid' inland waterway to connect South to South East Asia to facilitate regional trade.

Continue reading

India’s cautious response to Myanmar coup

April 14, 2021

Mindful not to jeopardise its budding relationship, New Delhi reacted cautiously to the recent military coup in Myanmar.

Continue reading

The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) is regional organization formed by the Governments of Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand through the Bangkok Declaration on 8th August, 1967. It aims to increase economic activity, make social progress, and maintain cultural development so as to promote regional peace, collaboration and mutual assistance on matters of common interest, provide assistance to each other in the form of training and research facilities, collaborate for better utilization of agriculture and industry, and promote Southeast Asian studies. The group also tries to maintain close ties with other countries and groupings to further their agenda.

Although the organisation was started from a fear of communism, they started becoming effective after the end of the Vietnam war in 1975. ASEAN's first summit meeting happened in 1976 when they met in Bali, Indonesia where member states signed a Treaty of Amity and Cooperation. ASEAN used this treaty to adopt a unified response to Vietnam's invasion of Cambodia in 1979. The end of the Cold War brought a degree of autonomy.

ASEAN countries on a map

Decorational art from Uttar Pradesh

ASEAN seal

ASEAN countries on a map
ASEAN plus six countries
India and ASEAN country leaders

On 15 December 1995, ASEAN adopted the Southeast Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty to ensure that the area remained a nuclear-weapon-free zone. In 1997, the ASEAN plus three grouping was created with China, Japan, and South Korea primarily for economic and currency stability. Slowly, the charter expanded to include food and energy security, disaster management, people-to-people contacts, narrowing the development gap, rural development, poverty alleviation, human trafficking, labour movement, communicable diseases, environment and sustainable development, and transnational crime including counter-terrorism. Then the ASEAN plus six was created to include India, Australia, and New Zealand. The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a free-trade agreement involving the 15 countries of ASEAN Plus Six (excluding India) was created as a FTA. India saw this as a terrible deal for its own industry; in retrospect, the collapse of the ASEAN economy because of Chinese imports vindicated India's decision. However, India has independent free trade agreements with ASEAN, China, Japan, and South Korea.

Meeting at Jakarta, member states signed a new charter on December 15, 2008 to make the grouping more like the European Union. Through this move, the ASEAN became a single free trade area (FTA) encompassing 500 million people (655 million in 2019) where they are no longer bitterly divided and can take a unified view on climate change and economic changes. In 2009, the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) was set up and adopted the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration in 2012.

There are 31 urban centers within the ASEAN each with more than 1 million people and 10 cities with more than 5 million people. The largest city is Jakarta. The average GDP growth rate ranges from 3.8% to 7% which is higher than the APEC average. Singapore is the richest country and Myanmar the poorest. ASEAN continues to be export-dependent grouping with very little intra-grouping trade. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) came mostly from EU, the US, and Japan. However, intra-group tourism accounted for about 50% of all tourism.

Leaders sign the declaration of the ASEAN Economic Community
GDP Data of top 10 countries and blocks
India-ASEAN relationship
ASEAN hisorical background