ASEAN and GCC: Forging Stronger Economic and Energy Collaborations.
Leaders from Southeast Asian nations and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) are set to enhance economic and energy collaboration in an upcoming summit scheduled for October 20.
This inaugural meeting between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the GCC is a response to shared concerns about global superpower rivalry, as noted by experts.
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The GCC, consisting of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman, first established ties with ASEAN in 1990.
The upcoming summit in Riyadh is expected to strengthen this relationship significantly.
In recent years, ASEAN has elevated its partnerships with key global players, including the US, China, India, Japan, and Australia, to Comprehensive Strategic Partnerships (CSP).
These CSPs signify the highest level of engagement, showcasing the breadth and depth of these relationships.
Looking toward the Middle East, ASEAN is seeking greater cooperation with the region.
The signing of ASEAN’s peace pact, the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation, by all six GCC members, including Kuwait’s recent entry in September, indicates the growing pace of relations between the two regions.
While foreign ministers from both blocs have been meeting annually on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, the Riyadh summit will mark the first gathering of leaders from these various countries.
Dr. Jean-Loup Samaan, a senior research fellow at the Middle East Institute at the National University of Singapore, remarked on the historical modesty of the ASEAN-GCC relationship, primarily focused on cultural exchange.
However, the upcoming summit signifies a shift from this neglect.
Reflecting on the formation of the GCC in 1981, Ms. Sharon Seah, senior fellow and coordinator of the ASEAN Studies Centre at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, highlighted the typical first-decade focus of any organization—consolidating relations among its members, which has been the GCC’s primary objective until now.
Ms. Seah anticipates that the summit will yield a comprehensive plan of action, setting the course for advancing the ASEAN-GCC relationship into the future.