The 32nd ASEAN Coordinating Council (ACC) Meeting and the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Retreat were held on February 3–4, 2023. This is the first significant event held in Indonesia during its 2023 chairmanship of ASEAN

On February 4, 2023, the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Retreat was held in Jakarta, Indonesia. The Retreat, with the theme “ASEAN Matters: Epicentrum of Growth,” was the first significant gathering held during Indonesia’s presidency of ASEAN in 2023. The 32nd ASEAN Coordinating Council (ACC) Meeting on 3 February 2023 preceded the meeting.

The meeting covered topics such as reiterating support for Indonesia’s chairmanship, global connectivity and trade, regional security, and promoting ASEAN regional sustainable development.

Here are a few highlights from the meetings:

Timor-Leste attended the meeting for the first time as an ASEAN member.

Timor-Leste participated in the meeting for the first time as a member of the ASEAN Family, with the status of observer. Timor-Leste is welcome to attend all levels of ASEAN meetings, including Summit Plenaries. While reiterating its commitment that all ASEAN Member States and external partners will fully support capacity-building assistance and any other necessary and relevant support for Timor-Leste’s membership in ASEAN, ASEAN also encouraged the Timor-Leste government to step up efforts toward ASEAN membership preparations.

Discussion regarding to ASEAN region international trade

As reflected in the sub-theme of Indonesia’s Chairmanship of Epicentrum of Growth, ASEAN is determined to make Southeast Asia the center of regional economic growth and an engine for global growth through robust cooperation, including in the food, energy, health, and finance sectors. The ASEAN Coordinating Council gave the High-Level Task Force on Economic Integration (HLTF-EI) approval to create the ASEAN Blue Economy Framework in order to put the Declaration into practice and advance the Blue Economy as a new source of regional economic growth.

Under Indonesia’s chairmanship, ASEAN welcomed its Priority Economic Deliverables and flagship initiatives to address the immediate challenges of ensuring the region’s recovery and rebuilding and to further the momentum for ASEAN as an epicentre of growth through inclusive digital economy integration and sustainable economic growth.

ASEAN’s response to the circumstances in Myanmar and the Holy Quran burning incident

Given that the military junta has been in power in Myanmar for two years, significant progress in implementing the Five-Point Consensus is required to pave the way for a broad national dialogue. ASEAN will continue to support Myanmar’s initiatives to advance harmony and reconciliation among the various communities, peace, stability, and the rule of law, as well as sustainable and equitable development in Rakhine State. ASEAN will also facilitate the voluntary return of displaced persons in a safe, secure, and dignified manner. 

Regarding the incident involving the burning of the Holy Quran, ASEAN strongly denounced the actions of far-right, extremist politicians in some nations. This blasphemous act has wounded and tarnished religious tolerance. Freedom of expression must be exercised responsibly. ASEAN will continue to promote the spirit of peaceful coexistence and encourage dialogue in order to achieve peace and harmony in a diverse global community.

ASEAN’s response towards South China Sea situation

Concerns were raised by some ministers during the ASEAN discussion of the South China Sea situation regarding land reclamations, recent developments, and serious incidents that have heightened tensions, eroded trust, and may threaten peace, security, and stability in the area. ASEAN is prepared to contribute to the peaceful dialogue between all parties, including by using mechanisms led by ASEAN to defuse tension, in order to maintain peace, security, and development in the region. The establishment of the ASEAN Coast Guard Forum (ACF) will allow for further discussion on the South China Sea issue.

Complete information about the meeting’s outcomes is available here.

Sourced from ASEAN official website