51st ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting - Joint Communique

SINGAPORE, 2 AUGUST 2018

1. We, the Foreign Ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), met on 2 August 2018 at the 51st ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM) in Singapore.  Our discussions focused on our continued efforts to build a resilient and innovative ASEAN, ASEAN’s relations with external partners, including through ASEAN-led platforms, and the importance of ASEAN Centrality and unity amidst rapid changes in Southeast Asia and beyond.

ASEAN COMMUNITY BUILDING

2. We reaffirmed our commitment to the full and effective implementation of the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and the ASEAN Leaders’ Vision for a Resilient and Innovative ASEAN. We also reaffirmed the importance of maintaining ASEAN Centrality and unity in community-building efforts and engagement with external partners.  We commended the ongoing work of all ASEAN Sectoral Bodies and Organs for progress in the implementation of the ASEAN Political-Security Community (APSC), ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), and ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC) Blueprints 2025 and lauded the efforts of the ASEAN Connectivity Coordinating Committee (ACCC) and the Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI) Task Force in the implementation of the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity (MPAC) 2025 and the IAI Work Plan III, respectively.  To ensure that our citizens remain at the heart of our integration and community-building process, we remained committed to fully tapping the opportunities afforded by new technologies and innovation arising from the digital revolution, while staying responsive toward emerging issues, including non-traditional security threats and environmental challenges, and in ensuring sustainable development. We recognised the importance of further narrowing the development gap within ASEAN to deepen economic integration and connectivity, as well as to strengthen ASEAN Centrality and unity.

3. We reaffirmed our shared commitment to maintaining and promoting peace, security and stability in the region, as well as to the peaceful resolution of disputes, including full respect for legal and diplomatic processes, without resorting to the threat or use of force, in accordance with the universally recognised principles of international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

4. We reaffirmed our belief that regionalism and multilateralism are important principles and frameworks of cooperation, and that their strength and value lie in their inclusivity, rules-based nature and emphasis on mutual benefit and respect.

5. We commended the continued efforts in addressing the recommendations of the High Level Task Force (HLTF) on Strengthening the ASEAN Secretariat and Reviewing the ASEAN Organs. We reiterated our commitment to continue the implementation of the recommendations and to expedite the completion of the outstanding recommendations by 2019. We remained resolute in streamlining coordination and improving work processes across the three Community pillars and among the ASEAN institutions, to accelerate ASEAN’s community-building, connectivity and integration efforts.

6. We welcomed the continued efforts undertaken by the ACCC, the National Coordinators, the National Focal Points, the Lead Implementing Body for Sustainable Infrastructure, relevant ASEAN Sectoral Bodies, Dialogue Partners and other external partners, in strengthening coordination and forging cooperation in implementing the MPAC 2025. We looked forward to (i) the establishment of an initial list of potential priority infrastructure projects; (ii) a study to advance sustainable urbanisation in ASEAN, which is aimed at increasing the deployment of smart urbanisation models across ASEAN, complementing the ASEAN Smart Cities Network (ASCN), and developing the ASEAN Sustainable Urbanisation Strategy; and (iii) a review of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSME) on how they can participate more effectively in the digital economy, by the 33rd ASEAN Summit in November 2018.

7. We reaffirmed the growing importance for ASEAN Member States to make use of innovation and technology to improve the lives of our people.  In this regard, we welcomed the Inaugural ASCN Meeting on 8 July 2018 in Singapore, and reaffirmed the ASCN’s importance as a platform to synergise development efforts, share best practices, and catalyse more opportunities for growth, innovation, capacity-building and inclusive sustainable development. We noted with satisfaction the Meeting’s endorsement of the ASEAN Smart Cities Framework and the ASCN cities’ action plans for smart city development, which took into account the specific needs and potential of each city, as well as its local and cultural context. We further welcomed the initial agreements that were signed between several ASCN pilot cities and external partners to explore collaboration on concrete projects, and looked forward to further partnerships that would support the development of this regional smart cities ecosystem. 

8. We were pleased with the progress in the implementation of the IAI Work Plan III to support CLMV countries in meeting ASEAN-wide targets and in narrowing development gaps within ASEAN, noting that 69.23% of or 18 out of 26 actions in the five strategic areas, namely food and agriculture, trade facilitation, MSMEs, education as well as health and well-being, have been addressed. We underscored the importance of the monitoring and evaluation of these projects by beneficiary countries, and for the ASEAN Secretariat to ensure that targeted objectives are achieved.  Noting that it has been almost two decades since the launch of the IAI, we looked forward to the results of the assessment on the progress of narrowing the development gap in ASEAN. We recognised the need to continue to mobilise our resources, along with those of ASEAN’s partners, including international organisations and the private sector, to implement the Work Plan in a timely and effective manner.

9. We reaffirmed our commitment to promoting complementarities between the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. We commended the progress made in initiatives such as the 2nd High-Level Brainstorming Dialogue on Enhancing Complementarities between the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which was held in Bangkok on 30 March 2018. We took note of Thailand’s proposal to establish an ASEAN Centre for Sustainable Development Studies and Dialogue in Bangkok in 2019.

ASEAN POLITICAL-SECURITY COMMUNITY

Terrorism and Violent Extremism

10. In our efforts to effectively counter terrorism as well as the rise of radicalisation and violent extremism conducive to terrorism, we welcomed the adoption of the Manila Declaration to Counter the Rise of Radicalisation and Violent Extremism and the updated ASEAN Comprehensive Plan of Action on Counter Terrorism (ACPoA on CT) at the 11th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Transnational Crime (AMMTC). The Declaration encouraged ASEAN Member States to combat radicalisation and violent extremism more vigorously, emphasising on de-radicalisation, rehabilitation and re-integration programmes and information sharing, while the ACPoA on CT would ensure that ASEAN’s cooperation stays relevant with the new and emerging trends of terrorism and violent extremism.  We also took note of the 2nd Special ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on the Rise of Radicalisation and Violent Extremism (SAMMRRVE) held on 19 September 2017 in Manila. We looked forward to the convening of the 12th AMMTC and the 3rd SAMMRRVE in Myanmar from 29 October to 2 November 2018. We welcomed the successful outcomes of the ASEAN Ad-Hoc Experts Working Group Meeting to Draft the ASEAN Plan of Action (POA) to Prevent and Counter the Rise of Radicalisation and Violent Extremism in Bali, Indonesia, from 3 to 5 April 2018, and looked forward to the continued efforts to counter radicalisation and violent extremism, including through the finalisation of the POA. We noted Singapore’s proposal to convene a Track 1.5 symposium on counter-terrorism in October 2018 titled, “The 2018 Southeast Asia Counter-Terrorism Symposium: A Collective Approach”.

Non-Traditional Threats

11. We noted the ongoing implementation of the ASEAN Work Plan on Securing Communities Against Illicit Drugs 2016-2025, and the ASEAN Cooperation Plan to Tackle Illicit Drug Production and Trafficking in the Golden Triangle 2017-2019. The first review of the Work Plan will be undertaken by the 39th Meeting of the ASEAN Senior Officials on Drug Matters (39th ASOD) in August 2018 in Brunei Darussalam, and reported to the 6th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Drug Matters (AMMD) in Vietnam in October 2018. We acknowledged the continued efforts of the ASEAN Narcotics Cooperation Centre (ASEAN-NARCO) in strengthening ASEAN cooperation on drugs, especially on information sharing and drugs surveillance in the region. We also looked forward to the launching of the ASEAN Drug Monitoring Report 2017 during the 39th ASOD. Noting that several emerging trends, including the proliferation of new psychoactive substances, internet facilitated drug sales, and increasing pressures for the legalisation of drugs for recreational use which may affect drug policies in ASEAN Member States and challenge our regional drug control approach, we expressed support for the ongoing work of the AMMD in preparing the ASEAN Position Statement, to be delivered during the High Level Segment of the 62nd Session of the United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs in 2019, to reiterate and reaffirm ASEAN’s goal to promote communities free of drug abuse, as well as ASEAN’s resolute stand against drugs and attempts to universalise any particular set of global drug policy guidelines, including calls to legalise controlled drugs.

12. We took note of the work of the AMMTC in addressing the ten transnational crime areas identified under the ASEAN Plan of Action to Combat Transnational Crime (2016-2025). We also noted the 11th AMMTC’s endorsement of the ASEAN Declaration to Prevent and Combat Cybercrime and its subsequent adoption at the 31st ASEAN Summit, which sets out the broad objective to combat cybercrime through international cooperation in preventing, detecting and responding to cybercrime. We further noted progress made on the implementation of the multi-sectoral Bohol Trafficking in Persons Work Plan (2017-2020). We commended the successful convening of the inaugural SOMTC Working Group on Illicit Trafficking of Wildlife and Timber in March 2018 and also extended support to the ongoing efforts to develop the Terms of Reference of the SOMTC Working Group on Illicit Trafficking of Wildlife and Timber, as well as the SOMTC Working Group on Arms Smuggling. We expressed our appreciation for the continued support and commitment of ASEAN Dialogue Partners and external parties in combating transnational crime in a comprehensive and holistic manner.  We underscored the importance of strengthening cooperation on border management to safeguard the region from non-traditional security challenges, including transnational crimes, in order to build a safe, secure and interconnected ASEAN Community. We also noted efforts to promote a more integrated and effective approach to address these cross-border challenges.

13. We welcomed the finalisation of the Guidelines on Consular Assistance by ASEAN Member States Missions in Third Countries to Nationals of Other ASEAN Member States at the 4th Meeting of the Working Group to Study Consular Assistance by ASEAN Missions in Third Countries to Nationals of ASEAN Member States (DWGCA) in Jakarta on 6 July 2018. We reaffirmed the purpose of the Guidelines to promote awareness of our people-oriented, people-centred Community and to enhance ASEAN’s abilities to provide assistance to our nationals. We looked forward to the adoption of the Guidelines on Consular Assistance by the AMMTC in 2018. We also looked forward to the finalisation of the Declaration on the Guidelines on Consular Assistance by ASEAN Member States Missions in Third Countries to Nationals of Other ASEAN Member States for adoption by our Leaders at the 33rd ASEAN Summit in November 2018.

14. We welcomed the adoption of the ASEAN Leaders’ Statement on Cybersecurity Cooperation by ASEAN Leaders at the 32nd ASEAN Summit in April 2018, in recognition of the growing urgency and sophistication of transboundary cyber threats. We expressed support for efforts to realise the task given by our Leaders at the 32nd ASEAN Summit to closely consider and submit recommendations on feasible options of coordinating cybersecurity policy, diplomacy, cooperation, technical and capacity building efforts among various platforms of the three pillars of ASEAN. We also expressed support for the efforts to realise the task given by our Leaders to make progress on discussions by ASEAN Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and Cybersecurity Ministers at the ASEAN Ministerial Conference on Cybersecurity (AMCC), ASEAN Telecommunications and Information Technology Ministers’ Meeting (TELMIN), as well as other relevant sectoral bodies such as the AMMTC, to identify a concrete list of voluntary, practical norms of State behaviour in cyberspace that ASEAN can work towards adopting and implementing. We acknowledged the progress in implementing the 2017 ASEAN Cybersecurity Strategy through regional capacity building efforts, such as the ASEAN Computer Emergency Response Team Incident Drill (ACID) and Singapore’s ASEAN Cyber Capacity Programme, and looked forward to the launch of the ASEAN-Japan Cybersecurity Capacity Building Centre in Bangkok. We expressed hope that discussions at the 3rd AMCC to be held in Singapore from 18 to 20 September 2018, and TELMIN, as well as other relevant ASEAN sectoral meetings, will make further progress on identifying concrete outcomes and recommendations to effectively implement the 2017 ASEAN Cybersecurity Strategy and the ASEAN Leaders’ Statement on Cybersecurity Cooperation.

15. We also expressed support for strengthening cooperation in personal data protection and enhancing cybersecurity in line with the ASEAN Framework on Personal Data Protection and the ASEAN Cybersecurity Cooperation Strategy.

Peace and Security

16. We reaffirmed the validity and relevance of the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC) in the current geopolitical context. The TAC continues to serve as the key code of conduct governing inter-State relations in the region and a foundation for the maintenance of regional peace and stability.  We are committed to further promoting the purposes and principles of the TAC and emphasised the importance of all High Contracting Parties fulfilling their obligations under the TAC for peace and stability in the region. We welcomed Iran’s and Argentina’s accession to the TAC. We further welcomed the interest of non-regional countries to accede to the TAC on the basis of respect for and in conformity with the purposes and principles of the TAC, and agreed to consider new applications in accordance with the Revised Guidelines for Accession to the TAC.

17. We welcomed the roles of the ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting (ADMM) and ADMM-Plus in promoting strategic dialogue, and enhancing practical cooperation among ASEAN and Plus Countries through the seven ADMM-Plus Experts’ Working Groups. We expressed support for the ADMM’s efforts to  develop counter-terrorism cooperation and intelligence sharing, strengthen regional capabilities to tackle chemical, biological, and radiological threats, as well as to develop practical confidence-building measures among ASEAN and Plus countries  in both the maritime and aviation domains to reduce the risk of miscalculations, and to ensure the safety and security of the sea and air lanes, with due regard to the rights and responsibilities of each ASEAN Member State. We welcomed the conduct of the ASEAN-China Maritime Exercise in 2018 to enhance confidence and trust amongst the ASEAN and Chinese navies. We also reiterated our support for efforts by the ADMM and ADMM-Plus in promoting civil-military cooperation in the region. In this regard, we looked forward to the full operationalisation of the ASEAN Militaries Ready Group on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (AMRG on HADR) and the ASEAN Centre for Military Medicine (ACMM), and their close collaboration with the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management (AHA Centre) and other relevant regional and international agencies. This should be based on the principles of respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, consensus-based decision making, participation on the basis of a flexible, voluntary, and non-binding nature, assets remaining under national command and control and at a pace comfortable to all.

18. We were pleased to note the finalisation of the Model ASEAN Extradition Treaty (MAET) at the 8th Meeting of the ASEAN Senior Law Officials’ Meeting (ASLOM) Working Group on the MAET in Bangkok from 26 to 28 March 2018. We looked forward to the text of the MAET being endorsed at the 18th ASLOM and 10th ASEAN Law Ministers’ Meeting (ALAWMM) in Vientiane in October 2018. We welcomed the announcement at the 32nd ASEAN Summit that work will commence on an ASEAN Extradition Treaty as a next step, to strengthen ASEAN’s resilience and capacity to combat transnational crime, and to enhance cooperation within ASEAN to ensure respect for the rule of law. We also welcomed the successful inaugural session of the ASEAN Law Academy, which was held in Singapore from 19 to 26 July 2018.

19. We welcomed the successful convening of the 5th ASEAN Network of Regulatory Bodies on Atomic Energy (ASEANTOM) Annual Meeting in Singapore from 26 to 28 June 2018, the Five-Year ASEANTOM Work Plan (2018-2022) and ongoing negotiations on a Practical Arrangement to formalise ASEAN’s relations with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). We looked forward to the formalisation of ASEAN-IAEA relations, which will promote greater cooperation, sharing of experiences and best practices in the areas of nuclear science, technology and its applications in areas such as human health, food security and agriculture, in nuclear safety, including radiation protection, radiation monitoring, emergency preparedness and response, in nuclear security, as well as in nuclear safeguards.

20. We reiterated our commitment to preserve the Southeast Asian region as a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone and free of all other weapons of mass destruction as enshrined in the Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapons-Free Zone (SEANWFZ Treaty) and the ASEAN Charter. We stressed the importance of the full and effective implementation of the SEANWFZ Treaty, including under the Plan of Action to Strengthen the Implementation of the SEANWFZ Treaty (2018-2022).  We reaffirmed our commitment to continuously engage the Nuclear Weapon States (NWS) and intensify the ongoing efforts of all Parties to resolve all outstanding issues in accordance with the objectives and principles of the SEANWFZ Treaty. Our ASEAN experts could explore ways to bridge the differences, including the possibility of engaging with NWS experts. We will continue to submit the biennial SEANWFZ Resolution through the First Committee to the UNGA.

Maritime Cooperation

21. We welcomed positive developments in maritime cooperation among ASEAN Member States, including through continued constructive dialogues on issues of common interest and concern, marine scientific research, maritime security, maritime safety, maritime domain awareness, and marine environment and protection under the ambit of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), ADMM and ADMM-Plus, AMMTC, the ASEAN Maritime Forum (AMF) and the Expanded ASEAN Maritime Forum (EAMF), and joint studies on conservation and sustainable use of sea and maritime resources in light of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal No 14: Life Below Water, No. 2: Zero Hunger and No. 13: Climate Action and maritime cooperation programmes.

22. We welcomed the successful convening of the 7th AMF and 5th EAMF in Jakarta from 6 to 7 December 2017, and encouraged stronger cooperation and constructive dialogue on maritime issues of common interests and concerns, including maritime security, maritime safety, marine environmental protection, and maritime connectivity in the region. We encouraged stronger coordination and greater synergy among ASEAN cross-sectoral bodies and other relevant ASEAN mechanisms such as the ARF, ADMM-Plus, and the EAS in enhancing maritime cooperation in the region. We looked forward to the convening of the 8th AMF and 6th EAMF later this year in the Philippines.

23. We noted that challenges of Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fishing remain and have become even more complex in the region. We are therefore committed to expanding regional cooperation to address this issue, including through supporting the effective implementation of relevant international laws and instruments.  We noted with satisfaction that there are initiatives taken by ASEAN-led mechanisms to discuss and address the challenges of IUU Fishing.

24. We welcomed the signing of the Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Indonesia and the ASEAN Institute for Peace and Reconciliation (ASEAN-IPR) on Hosting and Granting Privileges and Immunities to the ASEAN-IPR on 1 February 2018. We recognised the progress made by the ASEAN-IPR in operationalising the Secretariat, following the appointment of its first Executive Director. We commended the Governing Council of ASEAN-IPR on the adoption of the Institute’s Three-year Work Plan (2018-2020) to support ASEAN in further implementing the APSC Blueprint 2025. We noted the ASEAN-IPR’s progress in conducting activities to promote regional peace, security and conflict management, and resolution.

25. We welcomed the successful outcomes of the 6th Meeting of the Steering Committee of the ASEAN Regional Mine Action Centre (ARMAC) in Phnom Penh on 29 May 2018 and looked forward to further strengthening the ARMAC Permanent Secretariat. We further welcomed the signing of the Agreement between the Government of the Kingdom of Cambodia and ARMAC on Hosting and Granting Privileges and Immunities to the ARMAC, which took place on 27 February 2018 and entered into force on 28 March 2018. We also noted Cambodia’s proposal to host an ARMAC Regional Seminar on Full and Effective Operationalization of ARMAC: Enhancing Regional Efforts in Addressing ERW through Integrated Approach in October 2018.

Human Rights

26. We noted with satisfaction the work of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) in mainstreaming the rights of persons with disabilities, including the cross-pillar collaboration among the AICHR, Senior Officials’ Meeting on Social Welfare and Development (SOMSWD) and other sectoral bodies. We stressed the importance of ensuring the well-being of women, children, youths, the elderly, persons with disabilities, migrant workers, as well as vulnerable and marginalised groups in the region. We encouraged the AICHR to further enhance its engagement with relevant ASEAN Sectoral Bodies, and entities associated with ASEAN, including CSOs and other stakeholders, to mainstream human rights across the three pillars of the ASEAN Community. We were encouraged by AICHR’s efforts to strengthen its institutional capacity and improve its efficiency, as well as to maintain ASEAN’s Centrality and unity in promoting and protecting human rights, including in implementing projects and cooperation programmes.

27. We noted the accomplishments of the AICHR and the AICHR Annual Report 2018. We acknowledged AICHR’s efforts in promoting awareness on corporate social responsibility (CSR) and human rights, in promoting the rights of women and children, in strengthening judicial cooperation in the region, in implementing ASEAN human rights instruments, as well as in adopting a human rights-based approach to combat trafficking in persons, among others.  We were encouraged by AICHR’s efforts to further promote human rights among the peoples of ASEAN, including the youth, by conducting the AICHR Youth Debate on Human Rights 2018 in Phnom Penh.

 

ASEAN ECONOMIC COMMUNITY

Economic Integration

28. We welcomed the ‘live’ operation of the ASEAN Single Window (ASW), where five ASEAN Member States (Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Viet Nam) have commenced the exchange of e-ATIGA Form D on 1 January 2018 and where Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia and the Philippines have undertaken end-to-end testing on 19 March 2018, and encouraged other AMS to further develop their respective National Single Windows to enable the exchange of electronic documents under the ASW. We noted the progress in the discussions for the implementation of the ASEAN-Wide Self Certification (AWSC) scheme. We looked forward to the publication of the results of the ASEAN Seamless Trade Facilitation Indicators (ASTFI) Baseline Study, supported by the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA), which will enable ASEAN to identify key trade facilitation initiatives and measures that would contribute to meeting the target of 10% reduction in trade transaction cost by 2020 and doubling intra-ASEAN trade by 2025.

29. We were encouraged by the progress of the trade in services integration in ASEAN, through the Protocol to Implement the 10th Package of Commitments under the ASEAN Framework Agreement on Services (AFAS) and the negotiations of the ASEAN Trade in Services Agreement (ATISA). These arrangements will reduce market access limitations for service suppliers and introduce disciplines related to services trade, which provides for the further integration of ASEAN’s services sectors.  We noted the continuing efforts to attract more investments within the region through progressive enhancement of the ASEAN Comprehensive Investment Agreement (ACIA). We noted the progress of the ratification of the Second and Third Protocols to Amend the ACIA and encouraged the remaining AMS to expedite their ratification process. We also welcomed the progress made in enhancing ACIA particularly on the draft 4th Protocol negotiations which provides for the text to incorporate TRIMs-plus Prohibition of Performance Requirements (PPR) obligations into the ACIA and other related provisions.

30. We noted the continuing work to facilitate greater mobility of business people, professionals and skilled labour in the region. In particular, through the implementation of Mutual Recognition Arrangements (MRAs) for professional services, ASEAN Agreement on Movement of Natural Persons, ASEAN Qualification Reference Framework (AQRF), and the discussions to look into the feasibility of developing an ASEAN Business Travel Card in recognition of the importance of facilitating the movement of business people and investors.

31. We welcomed the completed report of the study on the ASEAN SME Policy Index 2018, supported by Canada, ERIA and the OECD, and the planned publication of the 50 Success Stories on digitalised MSMEs in ASEAN, supported by Japan. We looked forward to the outcome of ERIA’s Study on MSME participation in the Digital Economy in support of the implementation of the MPAC 2025. We thanked our Dialogue Partners such as Canada, Japan and the OECD for their continued contribution and support to various MSME initiatives, in collaboration with the ASEAN Coordinating Committee on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (ACCMSMEs).  

32. We noted the progress made towards the finalisation of the ASEAN Agreement on Electronic Commerce and the ASEAN Digital Integration Framework, which demonstrated the commitment of ASEAN Member States to facilitate e-commerce and embrace the digital economy. 

33. We welcomed the commitment to accelerate infrastructure development and financing in ASEAN through mobilising private capital, and to improve financing opportunities for promising ASEAN growth enterprises and start-up firms. We supported ongoing efforts to strengthen disaster resilience in the region with the ASEAN Disaster Risk Financing and Insurance (ADRFI) initiative, and welcomed the agreement to establish a regional catastrophe risk insurance pool for Lao PDR and Myanmar as the first product of the Southeast Asia Disaster Risk Insurance Facility (SEADRIF), with support from Japan, Singapore, and the World Bank. We welcomed the work to enhance national financial inclusion strategies and to explore the use of FinTech to improve financial inclusion. We affirmed the commitment to facilitate the sharing of information on cyber threats and incidents within ASEAN to strengthen cyber resilience in the financial sector. We looked forward to the successful completion of the pilot project between Singapore and Thailand to link real-time retail payment systems, which could potentially pave the way for a broader network of real-time retail payment system linkages among ASEAN Member States. We were pleased with the progress to sign the 8th Protocol under the AFAS for financial services by the end of 2018.

34. We noted the progress in the negotiations for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), including the recently concluded 5th RCEP Intersessional Ministerial Meeting held on 1 July 2018 in Tokyo, and the 23rd  RCEP Trade Negotiating Committee Meeting and Related Meetings held from 17 to 27 July 2018 in Bangkok. We were encouraged that our ASEAN Economic Ministers and Officials have agreed to work with a greater focus on finding breakthroughs for the early conclusion of RCEP. We reiterated the priority placed by ASEAN on the RCEP as a centrepiece of its external economic relations, particularly at a time of growing uncertainty in global trade. To this end, we looked forward to the swift conclusion of the RCEP negotiations and achievement of a modern, comprehensive, high quality and mutually beneficial agreement.

Regional Connectivity

35. We welcomed ongoing efforts to effectively implement MPAC 2025, which aims to achieve a seamlessly and comprehensively connected ASEAN that will promote competitiveness, inclusiveness, and a greater sense of community through realisation of the five strategic areas of MPAC 2025. We also noted the importance of resource mobilisation and cooperation with Dialogue Partners, external parties and international institutions, as well as other relevant stakeholders, to support the implementation of MPAC 2025 and other ASEAN Connectivity initiatives. At the same time, we noted the value of building on connectivity strategies at the sub-regional level and enhancing connectivity between ASEAN and other regions.

36. We acknowledged the progress in the implementation of the ASEAN Tourism Strategic Plan (ATSP) 2016-2025, where 15 key activities under the Work Plan for 2016-2017 have been completed. We applauded the success of the Visit ASEAN@50 Campaign, where ASEAN welcomed 125 million international visitors in 2017, exceeding the target of 121 million international tourist arrivals set for the campaign. We welcomed the adoption of the ATSP two-year Work Plan for 2018-2019, the ASEAN Tourism Marketing Strategy (ATMS) 2017-2020, the Joint Declaration on Gastronomy Tourism, as well as the ASEAN Declaration on Cruise Tourism, which would ensure the continued implementation of the ASEAN Tourism programmes. We commended the conclusion of the Guidelines for ASEAN Sustainable Tourism Award (ASTA), and we looked forward to the finalisation of the ASEAN Mutual Recognition Arrangement on Tourism Professionals (MRA-TP) Work Plan (2018-2022).

Smart and Sustainable Development

37. We welcomed the progress made in the implementation of the ASEAN Plan of Action on Science, Technology and Innovation (APASTI) 2016-2025, which included the furthering of regional cooperation involving scientific infrastructures of large investments and cross-cutting themes, strengthened collaboration with the dialogue partners, as well as the enhancement of the preparedness of the region to climate changes such as through the regional cooperation under ASEAN Hydroinformatics Data Centre. We commended the pledges of USD 1 million each by Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand to the ASEAN Science, Technology and Innovation (STI) Partnership Contributions. We welcomed the planning of innovative events and activities to support the adopted ASEAN Declaration on Innovation.

38. We commended the progress made by the TELMIN in the second year of implementation of the ASEAN ICT Masterplan 2020 that laid a strong foundation in propelling ASEAN towards a digitally-enabled economy that is secure, sustainable, resilient and transformative, as well as enabling an innovative, inclusive and integrated ASEAN Community, including the adoption of the ASEAN Framework on International Mobile Roaming, which will provide travellers and businesses with transparent and more affordable access to international mobile roaming services within ASEAN.  We also welcomed the Work Plan for the development of an ASEAN Framework on Digital Data Governance to support and strengthen digital data collection and management capabilities of businesses across the region, engender trust in businesses’ data collection and management practices, and foster an environment that encourages digital adoption, data flows and data innovation for the benefit of ASEAN citizens.

Resources

39. We welcomed the first multilateral electricity trade which took place on 24 January 2018 among Lao PDR, Malaysia and Thailand, and looked forward to efforts towards a wider framework for multilateral electricity trade in the ASEAN Power Grid.  We also noted the additional 8.5 million tons per annum of liquefied natural gas (LNG) regasification capacity in the region, which came online in November 2017. We were particularly encouraged by the ongoing efforts to achieve ASEAN’s energy intensity reduction and renewable energy targets. We also looked forward to the outcomes of the initiatives by the ASEAN Ministers on Energy Meeting (AMEM) to advance the deployment of renewable energy technologies and the development of policy recommendations for green building codes, as well as to address the roles of natural gas and clean coal in advancing energy security and sustainability in the region.

40. We noted the various efforts to enhance the minerals sector’s ability to sustainably develop the region’s vast mineral resources and boost mining-related trade and investments. We welcomed the recognition of eight mining companies operating in ASEAN for their commendable practices in mining operations, processing, and minerals distribution through the 1st ASEAN Minerals Awards.  We were pleased that the Awards was complemented by the adoption in 2017 of an ASEAN Reporting Mechanism to Monitor the Adoption of Sustainability Frameworks and Tools by ASEAN Member States, and, by efforts to make good examples widely accessible through the publication on Best Practices in Sustainable Mineral Development in ASEAN.  

41. We were pleased with the progress in the implementation of the Strategic Plan for ASEAN Cooperation in Food, Agriculture and Forestry 2016-2025 to enhance trade facilitation and ensure food security, food safety, better nutrition and equitable distribution. We welcomed the adoption of the ASEAN Public-Private Partnership Regional Framework for Technology Development in the Food, Agriculture and Forestry (FAF) Sectors to increase collaborative investment in sustainable technology development, adoption and dissemination throughout the whole value chain in the FAF in ASEAN.  

Palm Oil Industry

42. We noted the deep concern of some ASEAN Member States on issues relating to unfair market access and treatment for palm oil. We reaffirmed our support for the concerned Member States’ efforts to address the sustainability of palm oil, including their continued engagement with relevant parties.

 

ASEAN SOCIO-CULTURAL COMMUNITY

Peoples and Institutions

43. We acknowledged the importance of promoting ASEAN identity among ASEAN peoples.  We expressed our appreciation to the ASEAN Ministers Responsible for Culture and Arts (AMCA) for the progress in operationalising the ASEAN Strategic Plan for Culture and Arts 2016-2025 to promote a greater sense of belonging to the ASEAN Community.  We acknowledged that the youth of ASEAN will be a key driving force in bringing the region forward, and reaffirmed our commitment to nurture and invest in the youth of ASEAN to fully realise the energy and potential of its youthful demographic. We welcomed the renewal of the Singapore-ASEAN Youth Fund, with a SGD 5 million top-up by Singapore to support ground-up initiatives by ASEAN youths. We also expressed support for other initiatives to engage our youth, including through hosting the first ASEAN eSports tournament in Singapore, and launching an ASEAN Youth Fellowship programme. We also acknowledged the efforts of Indonesia in engendering dialogue and mutual understanding between youth of different faiths and cultural backgrounds through the ASEAN Youth Interfaith Camp (AYIC) 2017, which was held from 28 to 30 October 2017 in UNIPDU, Jombang, Indonesia, and its forthcoming AYIC which will be held in November 2018 in Jakarta, Yogyakarta and Bali, Indonesia.

44. We expressed support for the efforts of the ASCC in advancing the ASEAN Declaration on Culture of Prevention (CoP) for a Peaceful, Inclusive, Resilient, Healthy and Harmonious Society. We reiterated the need to institutionalise “Culture of Prevention” which focuses on upstream measures that would complement ASEAN’s efforts in addressing the root causes of violent extremism and other forms of social issues.  We emphasised the cross-cutting nature of the “Culture of Prevention” and called on all sectors from the three pillars to continue discussions and coordination to advance the “Culture of Prevention”.

45. We reaffirmed our commitment to empowering women and children in the region through regional and intersectoral cooperation. We commended the ASEAN Committee on Women (ACW), Senior Officials Meeting on Social Welfare and Development (SOMSWD) and ASEAN Commission on the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Women and Children (ACWC) for their development of ASEAN Regional Guidelines and Procedures to Address the Needs of Victims of Trafficking in Persons, and steady progress in implementing the ASEAN Regional Plan of Action on the Elimination of Violence against Women and the ASEAN Regional Plan of Action of the Elimination of Violence against Children. We stressed the need to end all forms of violence and discrimination against women and children, and commended efforts such as the launch of ASEAN Regional Guidelines for Violence Against Women and Girls Data Collection and Use.

46. We acknowledged the progress made and encouraged further implementation of the ASEAN Post 2015 Health Development Agenda for 2016-2020 through the four ASEAN Health Cluster Work Programmes focused on promoting healthy lifestyles, responding to all hazards and emerging threats, strengthening health systems and access to care and enhancing food safety.  We acknowledged the importance of multi-sectoral and multi-disciplinary efforts to implement the three Declarations on health matters and appreciated the commitment of ASEAN Member States towards operationalising them.

47. We noted the continuing efforts of the ASEAN Senior Officials’ Meeting on Education (SOM-ED) and the ASEAN Education Ministers Meeting (ASED) to support the implementation of the ASEAN Work Plan on Education (2016 – 2020) which aspires to provide inclusive educational opportunities for all ASEAN citizens. On-going work at all levels of education from early childhood to higher education and technical and vocational education and training and lifelong learning for all learners, including out-of-school children and youth and greater efforts to enhance the skills and professional development of teachers, contribute to the development of a stronger ASEAN Community.

48. We commended the ASEAN Ministers Responsible for Information (AMRI)’s ongoing efforts in building awareness on ASEAN, deepening ASEAN identity, and communicating to the people the benefits and opportunities of ASEAN integration. We welcomed AMRI’s adoption of the “Core Values on Digital Literacy for ASEAN”, which serves as a framework for digital literacy and cyber wellness in ASEAN. We acknowledged AMRI’s adoption of the “Framework and Joint Declaration to Minimise the Harmful Effects of Fake News”. The framework provides a common frame of reference for AMS to strengthen cooperation, share ideas, and collectively address the proliferation of fake news and its negative impact, and propose lasting solutions to the benefit of the ASEAN Community. We also welcomed the development of the ASEAN Communications Master Plan-II, which seeks to coordinate ASEAN messaging and branding that articulated the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 through the overarching theme of “ASEAN: A Community of Opportunities for All.”

49. We commended the good progress made by the ASEAN labour sector. We noted the recommended actions to implement the ASEAN Labour Ministers’ Statement on Improving Occupational Safety and Health for Sustainable Economic Growth and looked forward to its adoption at the 25th ASEAN Labour Ministers’ Meeting (ALMM) and its related Meetings/Conferences in Malaysia, tentatively in November 2018. We further noted the development of the Kuala Lumpur Declaration on Promoting Green Jobs for Equity and Inclusive Growth of ASEAN Community and looked forward to its adoption at the 33rd ASEAN Summit in Singapore in November 2018.

50. We recalled the signing of the ASEAN Consensus on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers (ASEAN Consensus) by the ASEAN Leaders in November 2017.  We applauded the ASEAN labour sector for developing the action plan to translate the ASEAN Consensus into concrete actions and looked forward to its adoption at the 25th ALMM and its notation by the ASEAN Leaders at the 33rd ASEAN Summit. The rapid development of the action plan is a clear indication of the ASEAN labour sector’s commitment to protect and promote the rights of migrant workers in ASEAN.

51. We welcomed the support from all relevant ASEAN sectoral bodies to jointly develop a work plan with the ASEAN Cooperation on Civil Service Matters (ACCSM) to realise the aspirations of the ASEAN Declaration on the Role of the Civil Service as a Catalyst for Achieving the ASEAN Community Vision 2025. We looked forward to the establishment of the ASEAN Network of Public Service Training Institutes (PSTI) that would enhance the training competencies of ASEAN civil services at the Heads of Civil Service Meeting of the 19th ACCSM on 25 October 2018 in Singapore, to ensure its continued relevance in strengthening the capacity and capability of ASEAN civil services to respond to emerging challenges.

 

Climate Change, Environment and Biodiversity

52. We noted that transboundary haze pollution, arising from land and forest fires remains a major concern in the region.  We reiterated our commitment to the full and effective implementation of the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution (AATHP) and the Roadmap on ASEAN Cooperation Towards Transboundary Haze Pollution Control with Means of Implementation (the Roadmap) to achieve a Haze-Free ASEAN by 2020. We looked forward to the conducting of the Mid-Term Review on the implementation of the Roadmap to take stock of the implementation progress and to sustain momentum in ensuring concrete improvements towards achieving the vision of the Roadmap. We looked forward to the establishment and full operationalisation of the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Transboundary Haze Pollution under the AATHP which will provide a strategic framework for the implementation of collaborative actions, to address transboundary haze pollution in the ASEAN region.

53. We welcomed the Chair’s initiative in convening the Special ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Climate Action (SAMCA) and the Expanded SAMCA (E-SAMCA) on 10 July 2018, towards full and effective implementation of the Paris Agreement. We recognised the importance of strengthening our cooperation in promoting sustainable development through, among others, development of circular economy, the use of renewable energy, sustainable and integrated water resources management at all levels, including through transboundary cooperation as appropriate, sustainable management of natural resources and reduction of waste, and conservation of biodiversity. We welcomed the full ratification of the Establishment Agreement of the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity by all ASEAN Member States and urged the Centre to strengthen regional and international collaboration and partnerships, including the mainstreaming of biodiversity in various development sectors, to ensure the conservation and sustainable management and use of the region’s biodiversity. We also looked forward to the finalisation of the ASEAN Strategic Plan on Environment (ASPEN) 2016-2025, which would serve as the guiding document for ASEAN cooperation on environment in the coming period.

54. We welcomed the commitment of the ASEAN Committee on Disaster Management (ACDM) and the AHA Centre to strengthen coordination and collaboration among the disaster management stakeholders and other sectors and the initiatives to operationalise the “ASEAN Declaration on One ASEAN One Response: ASEAN Responding to Disasters as One in the Region and Outside the Region”.  We welcomed the conduct of the ASEAN Strategic Policy Dialogue on Disaster Management (SPDDM) annually in Singapore, which featured the cooperation between ASEAN and the United Nations in disaster management and identified ways in which policy engagements can be further strengthened.  We also welcomed the adoption of the interoperability brief between the ASEAN Secretary-General and the UN-USG Emergency Relief Coordinator, as well as the development of the Terms of Reference (TOR) of the ASEAN Secretary-General as the ASEAN Humanitarian Assistance Coordinator (SG-AHAC). We also further encouraged the strengthening of cooperation through ASEAN-led mechanisms, as well as with relevant regional and international agencies to promote effective HADR in the region and beyond.

55. We were briefed by the Lao PDR on the flooding situation in various parts of the Lao PDR which had recently been hit by tropical storms. Sanamxay district in Attapeu province was the area most affected by flashfloods due to the collapse of the saddle dam of the Xe Pien-Xe Namnoy hydropower project on 23 July 2018. We noted that the Secretary-General of ASEAN had visited the Lao PDR in his capacity as ASEAN Humanitarian Assistance Coordinator, and the AHA Centre had delivered two initial batches of relief items. The Lao PDR expressed its profound appreciation for the support and rapid assistance given by ASEAN Member States, the AHA Centre, and external parties in responding to this disaster. 

56. We discussed and received a briefing from Myanmar on the humanitarian situation in Rakhine State. We expressed continued support for Myanmar’s humanitarian relief programme in Rakhine State and welcomed the AHA Centre’s ongoing work with the Myanmar Government-led mechanism to deliver humanitarian assistance to all displaced persons without discrimination. We welcomed the Arrangement on Return of Displaced Persons from Rakhine State between Myanmar and Bangladesh signed on 23 November 2017 and the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed among Myanmar, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on 6 June 2018 to facilitate the repatriation process of displaced persons from Rakhine State.  We also welcomed the ongoing efforts of Technical Working Group (TWG) for the adoption of the work plan to implement the MOU. We underlined the importance of the expeditious commencement of the voluntary return of displaced persons to Myanmar in a safe, secure and dignified way without undue delay, and stressed the need to find a comprehensive and durable solution to address the root causes of the conflict and to create a conducive environment so that the affected communities can rebuild their lives. We noted the progress made by the Government of Myanmar in implementing the recommendations of the final report of the Advisory Commission on Rakhine State, and encouraged Myanmar to continue to implement the remaining recommendations. We welcomed the establishment of an Independent Commission of Enquiry by the Government of Myanmar. We expressed our continued support for Myanmar in its efforts to bring peace, stability, the rule of law, to promote harmony and reconciliation among the various communities, as well as to ensure sustainable and equitable development in Rakhine State.

ASEAN EXTERNAL RELATIONS

57. We reviewed cooperation and noted with satisfaction the progress made with our Dialogue Partners, Sectoral Dialogue Partners and Development Partner. We reaffirmed the importance of pursuing an outward-looking policy through strengthening relations with our partners and further promoting dialogue and exploring new areas of cooperation based on mutual interest.  We also highlighted the importance of aligning ASEAN-external partners’ Plans of Action and Work Plans with the ASEAN Community’s Blueprints to support the achievement of the ASEAN Community Vision 2025.

58. We underscored the importance of strengthening ASEAN Centrality and unity in our community-building efforts and engagement with external partners. We are committed to building a rules-based regional architecture that is open, transparent and inclusive, building upon ASEAN-led mechanisms, including the ASEAN-Plus One, ASEAN Plus Three (APT), East Asia Summit (EAS), ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and the ADMM-Plus, to effectively engage key partners and to respond collectively and constructively to global and regional issues of common concern.

Dialogue Partners

59. We welcomed the convening of the Commemorative Summit on the occasion of the 40th Anniversary of ASEAN-Canada Dialogue Relations, the Commemorative Summit to mark the 40th Anniversary of ASEAN-EU Dialogue Relations, and the 5th ASEAN-US Summit to Commemorate the 40th Anniversary of ASEAN-US Dialogue Relations held in Manila in November 2017. We also welcomed the adoption of the Joint Statement of the ASEAN-US Commemorative Summit on the 40th Anniversary of the ASEAN-US Dialogue Relations by ASEAN and US Leaders.

60. We welcomed the adoption of the Delhi Declaration at the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit in New Delhi from 25 to 26 January 2018, on the theme of “Shared Values, Common Destiny”.  We also welcomed the adoption of the Sydney Declaration at the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit themed, “Enhancing Regional Security and Prosperity,” in Sydney, Australia, from 17 to 18 March 2018. These landmark events reaffirmed our shared commitment to deepen the ASEAN-India Strategic Partnership and the ASEAN-Australia Strategic Partnership. 

61. We welcomed the commemoration of the 15th Anniversary of the ASEAN-China Strategic Partnership this year through various commemorative activities, and looked forward to the adoption of the ASEAN-China Strategic Partnership Vision 2030 at the 21st ASEAN-China Summit in Singapore in November 2018. We also looked forward to the designation of the year 2019 as the ASEAN-China Year of Media Exchanges. We looked forward to the convening of the “21st ASEAN – Japan Summit to Commemorate the 45th Anniversary of ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation” in Singapore in November 2018.  We also looked forward to commemorating the 30th Anniversary of ASEAN-ROK Relations in 2019. We also looked forward to the ASEAN-EU Leaders’ Meeting at the sidelines of the 12th Asia-Europe Meeting in Brussels in October this year. We welcomed the proposal by the Russian Federation to convene the 4th ASEAN-Russia Summit back to back with the 33rd ASEAN Summit and Related Summits in November 2018 in Singapore. We reaffirmed our commitment to strengthening and deepening the ASEAN-New Zealand Strategic Partnership and building a peaceful, prosperous and integrated region.

ASEAN Sectoral Dialogue Partners and ASEAN Development Partner

62. We noted the good progress in the ASEAN-Switzerland Sectoral Dialogue Partnership and ASEAN-Norway Sectoral Dialogue Partnership.  We also noted the convening of the 6th ASEAN-Pakistan Joint Sectoral Cooperation Committee (AP-JSCC) Meeting in November 2017 and the discussions to further revitalise the partnership and further cooperation between the two sides.  We welcomed the launch of the ASEAN-Turkey Sectoral Dialogue Partnership with the successful convening of the 1st ASEAN-Turkey Joint Sectoral Cooperation Committee (AT-JSCC) Meeting in May 2018, and looked forward to the conclusion of the Practical Cooperation Areas for the ASEAN-Turkey Sectoral Dialogue Partnership, to enhance further cooperation.

63. We welcomed the adoption of the Practical Cooperation areas for the ASEAN-Germany Development Partnership (2018-2022) and thanked Germany for its ongoing support for ASEAN’s community-building efforts.

Regional and International Organisations

64. We were pleased to note the growing interest of regional organisations to forge closer relations with ASEAN. In this regard, we welcomed the ongoing efforts by ASEAN and the Pacific Alliance to implement the ASEAN-Pacific Alliance Work Plan (2017-2018). We were also encouraged by the convening of the 2nd ASEAN-MERCOSUR Ministerial Meeting in September 2017 in New York at the sidelines of the 72nd United Nations General Assembly. We looked forward to further renewed impetus to strengthen ASEAN-MERCOSUR relations.

65. We recognised the instrumental role of the United Nations in tackling global challenges in close collaboration with regional organisations, including ASEAN. We were pleased to note the ongoing cooperation between ASEAN and the United Nations, and reaffirmed the commitment to step up cooperation in areas contributing to the implementation of the ASEAN Vision 2025 and the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. We were pleased to note the positive progress made in the implementation of the Plan of Action to Implement the Joint Declaration on Comprehensive Partnership between ASEAN and the United Nations (2016-2020) and welcomed efforts by ASEAN Sectoral Bodies and United Nations agencies in developing concrete and specific action lines, as well as the institutionalisation of the ASEAN-United Nations Secretariat-to-Secretariat mechanism to further realise the full potential of the comprehensive partnership. We noted the first meeting between AICHR and the United Nations and its agencies during the 27th Meeting of AICHR on 15 May 2018, during which both sides had deliberated possible areas for future cooperation on various human rights themes.

Regional Architecture

66. We reaffirmed the important role of the APT framework in promoting peace, security, stability and prosperity in East Asia. We noted the progress made in implementing the East Asia Vision Group (EAVG) II selected recommendations to promote APT cooperation, in working towards realising an East Asia Economic community. We noted the good progress in the implementation of the APT Cooperation Work Plan (2018 – 2022) and looked forward to further strengthening cooperation, as well as engagement between Track 1 and Track 2 under the APT cooperation mechanisms, including Network of East Asia Think-Tanks (NEAT) and the East Asia Forum (EAF). We noted with appreciation the ongoing replenishment of the APT Cooperation Fund (APTCF) which would allow implementation of more APT projects under the Work Plan. We reaffirmed the importance of strengthening the APT financial mechanisms to maintain the positive trajectory of the region’s economy despite the volatile global economic environment.

67. We reaffirmed our commitment to further strengthening the EAS as a Leaders-led forum for dialogue on broad strategic, political and economic issues of common interest and concern, in line with the 2015 Kuala Lumpur Declaration on the 10th Anniversary of the East Asia Summit and based on the established principles, objectives and modalities of the EAS. We reaffirmed ASEAN’s central role in the EAS process while working in close partnership with other EAS participating countries.

68. We looked forward to further strengthening EAS cooperation by implementing the Manila Plan of Action (POA) to Advance the Phnom Penh Declaration on the EAS Development Initiative (2018-2022), which will serve as the framework to enhance EAS cooperation in areas of cooperation such as environment and energy, education, finance, global health issues and pandemic diseases, natural disaster management, ASEAN connectivity, trade and economic, food security and maritime cooperation. We looked forward to enhancing cooperation in other areas of common interest, in line with the Leaders’ decisions and initiatives and in response to emerging challenges and issues related to peace, stability and security in the region, such as disarmament and non-proliferation, non-traditional security threats including terrorism, violent extremism and cybercrimes, and sustainable development. We underscored the importance of maritime cooperation in order to effectively manage maritime-related issues in the region, and welcomed the progress made in the implementation of the 2015 EAS Statement on Enhancing Regional Maritime Cooperation. We encouraged closer coordination among EAS participating countries in enhancing maritime cooperation in the region, including the issue of marine plastic debris.

69. We welcomed the continued discussions and efforts to strengthen the EAS, including through, among others, the regular engagement of the EAS Ambassadors’ Meeting in Jakarta (EAMJ) to discuss implementation of the Leaders’ decisions and initiatives, as well as exchange information on regional development cooperation initiatives and security policies and initiatives. We looked forward to strengthening the EAS Unit at the ASEAN Secretariat to facilitate EAS coordination and cooperation effectively. We expressed support for the efforts of Singapore, as the ASEAN Chair, to create a more interactive format for the EAS that promotes more candid and substantive exchanges among the EAS Leaders. 

70. We reaffirmed the importance of the ARF as an inclusive forum in the Asia-Pacific region for fostering constructive dialogue and cooperation among the ARF Participants on political and security issues of common interest and concern, and welcomed the ARF’s 25th Anniversary.  We noted with appreciation the progress in the implementation of the Hanoi Plan of Action to Implement the ARF Vision Statement 2020, which has contributed to the region’s overall efforts in effectively addressing the increasingly complex regional and non-traditional security challenges. We noted that in the context of the evolving regional security architecture in the Asia-Pacific region, it is imperative that the ARF maintains its relevance with ASEAN at its core. We welcomed the growing number of activities related to preventive diplomacy (PD) in conjunction with the strengthening of confidence building measures (CBMs), to help advance the evolution of the ARF Process from confidence building measures to preventive diplomacy and eventually, towards approaches to conflict resolution. We also highlighted the importance of promoting complementarities and synergies between the ARF and other ASEAN Sectorial bodies and ASEAN-led mechanisms, such as the ADMM and ADMM-Plus, the AMMTC and the EAS, and strengthening civil-military cooperation and coordination within the ARF Process. We encouraged the participation of ARF Expert/Eminent Persons (EEPs) as well as track two officials in the relevant ARF activities. We also emphasised the importance of strengthening partnerships between Track 1 and Track 2 organisations such as the ASEAN-Institutes of Strategic and International Studies (ASEAN-ISIS) and the Council for Security Cooperation in the Asia-Pacific (CSCAP) in order to add value to the ARF Process, including through the publication of documents or memoranda for the consideration of Track 1 officials. We encouraged ASEAN-ISIS and CSCAP to study issues/topics of importance and priority to the ARF.

71. We discussed some of the new initiatives proposed by ASEAN’s external partners to deepen engagement of our region, such as the concepts and strategies on the Indo-Pacific, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and the Expanded Partnership for Quality Infrastructure. We agreed to explore mutually beneficial cooperation and create synergies with these initiatives, on the basis of ASEAN Centrality, particularly with a view towards promoting peace, stability as well as deepening trade, investment and connectivity in our region. We reaffirmed the need to strengthen an ASEAN-centric regional architecture that is open, transparent, inclusive and rules-based.

72. We noted the briefing on Indonesia’s Indo-Pacific concept. We looked forward to further discussion on the Indo-Pacific concept, which embraces key principles such as ASEAN Centrality, openness, transparency, inclusivity, and rules-based approach, while contributing to mutual trust, mutual respect and mutual benefit.

Timor-Leste's Application for ASEAN Membership

73. We noted Timor-Leste’s application for ASEAN membership and looked forward to the continued discussion and report by the ASEAN Coordinating Council Working Group (ACCWG) on the way forward in considering Timor-Leste’s application for ASEAN membership. We urged ASEAN Sectoral Bodies and Organs to continue exploring relevant capacity-building activities for Timor-Leste’s participation, in accordance with the elements and procedures outlined by the ASEAN Member States.  We also recognised the need to expedite the process of considering Timor-Leste’s application.

 

 

 

REGIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL ISSUES

South China Sea

74. We reaffirmed the importance of maintaining and promoting peace, security, stability, safety and freedom of navigation in and overflight above the South China Sea and recognised the benefits of having the South China Sea as a sea of peace, stability and prosperity. We underscored the importance of the full and effective implementation of the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) in its entirety. We warmly welcomed the continued improving cooperation between ASEAN and China and were encouraged by the progress of the substantive negotiations towards the early conclusion of an effective Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC) on a mutually-agreed timeline. We noted that ASEAN Member States and China had agreed on a Single Draft COC Negotiating Text at the 15th  ASEAN-China Senior Officials’ Meeting on the Implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea in Changsha, China, on 27 June 2018. In this regard, we emphasised the need to maintain an environment conducive to the COC negotiations. We welcomed practical measures that could reduce tensions, and the risk of accidents, misunderstandings and miscalculation, such as the successful testing of the ASEAN Member States and China MFA-to-MFA hotline to manage maritime emergencies in the South China Sea, and the operationalisation of the Joint Statement on the Application of the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES) in the South China Sea adopted on 7 September 2016.  We stressed the importance of undertaking confidence building and preventive measures to enhance, among others, trust and confidence amongst parties.

75. We discussed the matters relating to the South China Sea and took note of some concerns on the land reclamations and activities in the area, which have eroded trust and confidence, increased tensions and may undermine peace, security and stability in the region. We reaffirmed the need to enhance mutual trust and confidence, exercise self-restraint in the conduct of activities and avoid actions that may further complicate the situation, and pursue peaceful resolution of disputes in accordance with international law, including the 1982 UNCLOS. We emphasised the importance of non-militarisation and self-restraint in the conduct of all activities by claimants and all other states, including those mentioned in the DOC that could further complicate the situation and escalate tensions in the South China Sea. 

Developments in the Korean Peninsula

76. We welcomed the Inter-Korean Summits (IKS) held on 27 April 2018 and 26 May 2018, as well as the summit between the United States (US) and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) in Singapore on 12 June 2018. We also welcomed the Panmunjom Declaration, as well as the Joint Statement signed between US President Donald J Trump and Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of the DPRK Kim Jong Un. We urged all concerned parties to continue working towards the realisation of lasting peace and stability on a denuclearised Korean Peninsula. We also welcomed the DPRK’s stated commitment to complete denuclearisation and its pledge to refrain from further nuclear and missile tests during this period.  We reiterated our support for all relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions and international efforts to bring about the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula which will contribute to peace and stability in the region.

Countering Violent Extremism, Radicalisation and Terrorism

77.  We reaffirmed our commitment to combat the scourge of violent extremism, radicalisation and terrorism through the effective implementation of measures and counter-measures at the national, regional and sub-regional levels under the ASEAN Convention on Counter-Terrorism (ACCT), the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, and the UN Plan of Action to Prevent Violent Extremism.  We likewise reaffirmed the importance and effectiveness of a whole-of-nation approach in combating and preventing the problem, including through education, the involvement of women and youth and civil society, the promotion of principles such as peace, tolerance, respect for diversity and moderation as a counter-narrative, and preventing the misuse of internet, social media and cyber space for terrorist activities. We reiterated our support for other sub-regional, trilateral and bilateral efforts of Member States against terrorism at the operational level, such as the Trilateral Cooperative Arrangement among Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines on Security Matters in the Maritime Areas of Common Concern; the Philippines-Indonesia-Malaysia Trilateral Meeting on Security; and Sub-Regional Meeting on Foreign Terrorist Fighters and Cross Border Terrorism.

Situation in the Middle East

78. We reiterated the need for a comprehensive, just, and sustainable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in order to achieve peace and stability in the Middle East region.  We urged both sides to actively take positive steps to allow for negotiations to gain traction and work together towards the resumption of negotiations to achieve an enduring peace. We fully support the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people for an independent State of Palestine with the realisation of two states, Palestine and Israel living side by side in peace and security based on pre-1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

52nd ASEAN FOREIGN MINISTERS’ MEETING

79. We looked forward to the convening of the 52nd ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, Post Ministerial Conferences, 20th APT Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, 9th EAS Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and 26th ARF to be held in Thailand in 2019.
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