31st ASEAN Summit : All you need to know

The year 2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). The 31st Summit will take place alongside related meetings and a special celebration of “ASEAN@50” with the Leaders.

The ten members of ASEAN are: Brunei Darussalam; Cambodia; Indonesia; Lao PDR; Malaysia; Myanmar; Philippines; Singapore; Thailand; and Viet Nam

Modi attended the 15th ASEAN-India summit and 12th East Asia summit on 14 November 

India’s relation with ASEAN countries

The ties between India and ASEAN have been on an upswing in the last few years with focus being on ramping up cooperation in the areas of trade and investment as well as security and defence. “Every single country in the ASEAN region wants India to be more engaged in the region in every possible way.

Current years ASEAN meeting

With an eye on China’s activities in the region, the first meeting of Indian officials in Manila with those from the US, Australia, and Japan described as the “quadrilateral” was held a day before the ASEAN summits begin in the Philippines

The meeting was chaired by Japan

The last such meeting took place in 2007, after which Australia had quit such a dialogue mechanism

Key Issues discussed in the meeting

  • Key issues of common interest in the “Indo-Pacific region” were discussed, with an eye on China and the aim of reaching a common ground on a “free and open” Indo-Pacific with an apparent reference to freedom of navigation on the South China Sea
  • The common challenges of terrorism and proliferation linkages impacting the region were also discussed.
  • The clandestine links between North Korea and Pakistan in the development of their nuclear programmes were also highlighted.

Agreements and Declarations

  • Declaration for a Decade of Coastal and Marine Environmental Protection in the South China Sea (2017-2027)

  • ASEAN Declaration to Prevent and Combat Cybercrime

  • Manila Declaration to Counter the Rise of Radicalisation and Violent Extremism

  • Manila Declaration on the 20th Anniversary of ASEAN Plus Three Cooperation

  • Action Agenda on Mainstreaming Women’s Economic Empowerment (WEE) in ASEAN

How important is ASEAN for India?

India is one of the strategic partners of ASEAN. With a total population of 1.8 billion and a combined GDP of $3.8 trillion, ASEAN and India together form an important economic space in the world.

Energy: ASEAN countries, particularly Myanmar, Vietnam and Malaysia can potentially contribute to India’s energy security. Also, the oil and natural gas deposits in the South China Sea region could play a significant role.

Trade and Economy: Presently, India is the 6th largest trading partner of the ASEAN and ASEAN is India’s 4th largest trading partner after the EU, the US and China. Trade between India and ASEAN stood at $65.04 billion in 2015-16 and comprises 10.12% of India’s total trade with the world.

Future prospects

India-ASEAN is slated to grow faster than the rest of the world due to a favorable demographic profile and growing market for goods and services. India’s trade relations are shifting from Western economies towards the East, comprising of Japan, China, Korea and ASEAN. India-ASEAN linkage provides for large-scale movement of people, capital, ideas and creativity.

ASEAN as an FDI Destination: The region’s infrastructure needs, its growing middle class and increasing consumer demands make ASEAN a very appealing destination for FDI. It ranks alongside China as the preferred destination for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).


ASEAN was founded on August 8, 1967 by Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand. Its membership has since expanded to include Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar (Burma), and Vietnam.

Purpose of formation

Its principal aims include accelerating economic growth, social progress, and socio-cultural evolution among its members, alongside the protection of regional stability and the provision of a mechanism for member countries to resolve differences peacefully. Its creation was motivated by a common fear of communism and the desire for economic development.


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