Enlargement of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

██ ASEAN full members
██ ASEAN observers
██ ASEAN candidate members
ASEAN Plus Three
East Asia Summit
ASEAN Regional Forum

The Enlargement of the Association[1] of Southeast Asian Nations is the process of expanding the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) through the accession of new member states. This process began with ASEAN's five original members, who founded the association through the signing of Bangkok Declaration in 1967. Since then, the ASEAN's membership has grown to ten with the accession of Cambodia in 1999.

Currently, two states are seeking accession to ASEAN: Papua New Guinea[2][3] and East Timor.[4]


One of the criteria for membership is that a prospective member must agree to subscribe or accede to all the treaties, declarations and agreements in ASEAN, starting with those outlined in the Bangkok Declaration of 8 August 1967 and those elaborated and developed in various subsequent treaties, declarations and agreements of ASEAN. One common concern that must be addressed through negotiations is the ability of a prospective member to participate in ASEAN Free Trade Area and all other economic co-operation arrangements. One important means of orientation for a prospective member is its attendance at ASEAN meetings and participation in co-operation projects.[5]

The Bangkok Declaration lays down no conditions for membership other than location in Southeast Asia and the usual principles of inter-state relations. ASEAN has no membership criteria related to the character of government, ideological system and orientation, economic policy, or level of development. If there were such criteria for membership, a regional association would not be possible in Southeast Asia, given its diversity.[6] To be admitted as an ASEAN member state, a state must maintain embassies in all current member countries of the bloc.[7]

Criteria for observers

ASEAN senior officials agreed in 1983 that observer status "should be granted only to potential members of ASEAN who satisfy the criteria set for ASEAN membership". One of the criteria states, "only states in the Southeast Asia may join ASEAN."[6]

Criteria for ASEAN Regional Forum

ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), the multilateral dialogue among Asia Pacific countries is aimed for fostering dialogue and consultation, also promoting confidence-building and preventive diplomacy throughout the region.[8] The membership criteria for ARF, as well as other Dialogue Partners, were outlined during the second ARF in 1996, in Jakarta, Indonesia. ARF ministers adopted the criteria that ARF participants must be sovereign states, which, at China's behest, was evidently meant to exclude Taiwan. They must "abide by and respect fully the decisions and statements already made by the ARF". The criteria stress that ASEAN members "automatically" take part in the ARF.[6]

Historical enlargements

Founding members

ASEAN was established on 8 August 1967, when foreign ministers of five countries – Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand – met at the Thai Department of Foreign Affairs building in Bangkok and signed the ASEAN Declaration, more commonly known as the Bangkok Declaration. The five foreign ministers: Adam Malik of Indonesia, Narciso Ramos of the Philippines, Abdul Razak of Malaysia, S. Rajaratnam of Singapore, and Thanat Khoman of Thailand are considered as the organisation's Founding Fathers.[9]

a map
The accession of members from 1967 to 1999

Continued expansion

The flags of current ten ASEAN members

In 1976, the Melanesian state of Papua New Guinea was accorded observer status.[10] The bloc then grew when Brunei Darussalam became the sixth member after it joined on 8 January 1984, barely a week after the country became independent on 1 January.[11]

Vietnam became an ASEAN observer state in 1993[12] and the seventh full member on 28 July 1995.[1]

Laos, Burma, and Cambodia

The latest three members of ASEAN began their application in joining the bloc in the 1990s.

Laos became an ASEAN observer at the 25th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting (AMM) in Manila, Philippines, in July 1992. At the 28th AMM in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei, the Lao foreign minister announced that he wished to see Laos join ASEAN in 1997, stated in a letter of application for membership dated 15 March 1996.[5]

Cambodia was accorded observer status at the 28th AMM in July 1995. The Cambodian foreign minister applied for membership in a letter dated 23 March 1996. Like Laos, Cambodia also wished to join ASEAN in 1997.[5]

The foreign minister of Myanmar attended the 27th and 28th AMM as a guest of the host governments. During the 28th meeting, Myanmar acceded to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia and applied for observer status.

The heads of government of Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia met with those of ASEAN during the Fifth ASEAN Summit in Bangkok on 15 December 1995. The representative of Myanmar expressed hope that his country would be accorded observer status at the 29th AMM in 1996.[5]

The ASEAN Security Committee (ASC) established a working group, chaired by ASEAN Deputy Secretary-General Mr. Mahadi Haji Wasli, to look into all issues on the potential membership of Cambodia and Laos. On 17 July 1996, the working group held consultations with the director-general of the ASEAN Department of Laos in Jakarta.[5]

At the 29th AMM, Myanmar was accorded observer status, and participated in the ARF for the first time. On 12 August 1996, Myanmar submitted application for membership in ASEAN, with hopes for joining by 1997 along with Cambodia and Laos.[5] The ASC then extended the mandate of the Working Group on the Membership of Cambodia and Laos to also include the membership of Myanmar.[5]

Laos and Myanmar became members of ASEAN on 23 July 1997.[13] Cambodia's membership was deferred due to the country's internal political struggle; following the stabilisation of its government, Cambodia joined on 30 April 1999.[13][14]

In addition to the growth in membership, the bloc experienced a drive for further integration in the 1990s. In 1990, Malaysia proposed the creation of an East Asia Economic Caucus[15] composing the then-members of ASEAN and the People's Republic of China, Japan, and South Korea, with the intention of counterbalancing the growing influence of the United States in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and in the Asian region as a whole.[16][17] This proposal failed, however, due to heavy opposition from the United States and Japan.[16][18] Despite this failure, member states continued to work for further integration and ASEAN Plus Three was created in 1997.

In 1992, the Common Effective Preferential Tariff (CEPT) scheme was signed as a schedule for phasing tariffs and as a goal to increase the "region's competitive advantage as a production base geared for the world market". This law acted as the framework for the ASEAN Free Trade Area. After the East Asian Financial Crisis of 1997, a revival of the Malaysian proposal was established in Chiang Mai, known as the Chiang Mai Initiative, which calls for better integration between the economies of ASEAN and the ASEAN Plus Three countries.[19]

Future enlargement

  Member states
  Candidates: Papua New Guinea and Timor-Leste
  Potential candidates for observer status: Bangladesh

Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea (PNG) has been an observer of the regional bloc since 1976, earlier than any other non-original member of ASEAN. Its leaders have been pushing for full membership since at least the 1980s.[20] During the 29th AMM in 1996, PNG Foreign Minister Kilroy Genia proposed that Papua New Guinea be accorded permanent associate membership with ASEAN.[21] PNG Prime Minister Michael Somare stated during his visit to the Philippines in 2009 that his country was considering applying for full membership.[2] In March 2012, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono expressed his support for PNG membership in ASEAN.[22] In June 2013 PNG Foreign Minister Rimbink Pato reiterated that the country was "very interested" in joining ASEAN.[23]

An obstacle to PNG's admission to ASEAN has been its geographical location. Although located no farther away from ASEAN's Jakarta headquarters than northern Myanmar, PNG is usually considered to be outside Southeast Asia and thus ineligible for membership. When the country was granted the observer status in 1976, it was acknowledged that PNG shares the same political and economic region with ASEAN's member, and connected geographically, because the country forms half of the island of New Guinea, with the other half occupied by Indonesia's provinces of Papua and West Papua. A subsequent decision in 1983 limited membership to Southeast Asian countries.

In 2015, PNG appointed a special envoy to deal with matters related to ASEAN, reflecting its determination to expedite becoming a full member of the ASEAN bloc. PNG was also taking the necessary steps to prepare itself for integration.[24]


José Ramos-Horta hoped East Timor could join ASEAN before 2012.

In March 2011 Timor-Leste (a.k.a. East Timor) submitted a membership application to ASEAN,[25] a move which was supported by Indonesia, its former colonialist turned partner-ally, and the Philippines, its only Catholic ally in Asia.[26]

Timor-Leste gained its independence in 2002, and from the following year took part in the Southeast Asian Games, a multi-sport event associated with ASEAN. In 2005, the country became the 25th to join the ARF. The biggest struggle toward joining ASEAN had been for the young and war-torn country to maintain embassies in all ten ASEAN member countries.[27] Timorese President José Ramos-Horta hoped to gain membership before 2012.[28]

Lack of consensus has prevented ASEAN from arriving at decisions on observer status for Timor-Leste and its accession to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation. The treaty makes clear distinctions between the rights of regional and non-regional signatories, but whether Timor-Leste a part of the region is debatable.[6]

Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong objected in late 2011 to Timor-Leste's membership, due to his desire to achieve economic integration by 2015, which the relatively less-developed Timor-Leste would make difficult.[29] Some member states are concerned that, having experienced the entry of four relatively underdeveloped members, ASEAN would be admitting an even poorer one.[6] Although ASEAN has no membership criteria regarding political ideology, some ASEAN countries have difficulties with Timor-Leste's eventual membership.[citation needed]

In 2015, Timor-Leste's ambassador to Malaysia said the country was ready to join the ASEAN, having fulfilled the two major requirements of being located in the region and having opened embassies in ASEAN member countries.[30] In 2016, Indonesia announced that Timor-Leste's membership bid could be realized in 2017, since the feasibility studies conducted by both countries on Timor-Leste's stability, security, economy, and culture would be finished by the end of 2016. The Philippines, a close ally of Timor-Leste, would be the ARF host for 2017.[31][needs update]

Countries interested in joining

A number of countries had expressed an interest in becoming part of ASEAN despite being outside the geographical limits of Southeast Asia.


Laos supports Bangladesh gaining observer status in ASEAN.[32]

Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka was initially invited to join ASEAN as a founding member on 8 August 1967, however the country did not proceed as ASEAN was pro-Western and Sri Lanka was then pursuing a policy of non-alignment.[33][34] There was also objection from Singapore over concerns of domestic instability from tensions between the two main ethnic groups of Sri Lanka.[35] Interest from within the country later became evident and it attempted to join ASEAN by 1981.[36][37][38] In 2007, Sri Lanka was among the 27 participants in the ARF.[39]


Pakistan had expressed an interest in joining ASEAN, and sought the support of Indonesia.[40]

Other countries

Australia and New Zealand

In February 2018, independent think tank Australian Strategic Policy Institute recommended that Australia seek ASEAN membership by 2024, and that New Zealand join with Australia.[41] During an interview with Fairfax Media, Indonesian President Joko Widodo stated that Australia should join the organization.[42] In 2016, former Australian prime minister Paul Keating suggested that Australia join ASEAN.[43]


  1. ^ a b "Vietnam in ASEAN : Toward Cooperation for Mutual Benefits". ASEAN Secretariat. 2007. Archived from the original on 11 May 2013. Retrieved 28 August 2009.
  2. ^ a b "Papua New Guinea asks RP support for Asean membership bid". GMA News and Public Affairs. 30 March 2009. Retrieved 26 January 2013.
  3. ^ Somare seeks PGMA's support for PNG's ASEAN membership bid Archived 6 March 2010 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 8 July 2009
  4. ^ East Timor ASEAN Bid Retrieved 28 July 2006
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Preparations for the Membership of ASEAN Retrieved 14 May 2011
  6. ^ a b c d e Severino, Rodolfo (2006) Southeast Asia in search of an ASEAN community: insights from the former ASEAN secretary-general, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.
  7. ^ Aquino to back East Timor's bid for ASEAN membership Retrieved 14 May 2011
  8. ^ About Us Archived 25 February 2007 at the Wayback Machine., ASEAN Regional Forum official website. Retrieved 12 June 2006.
  9. ^ Bernard Eccleston; Michael Dawson; Deborah J. McNamara (1998). The Asia-Pacific Profile. Routledge (UK). ISBN 0-415-17279-9.
  10. ^ "ASEAN secretariat". ASEAN. 23 July 1999. Retrieved 12 January 2009.
  11. ^ "Background Note:Brunei Darussalam/Profile:/Foreign Relations". United States State Department. Retrieved 6 March 2007.
  12. ^ "Vietnam's Membership of ASEAN: Issues and Implications" (PDF). Department of the Parliamentary Library.
  13. ^ a b Carolyn L. Gates; Mya Than (2001). ASEAN Enlargement: impacts and implications. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. ISBN 981-230-081-3.
  14. ^ "Statement by the Secretary-General of ASEAN Welcoming the Kingdom of Cambodia as the Tenth Member State of ASEAN : 30 April 1999, ASEAN Secretariat". ASEAN Secretariat. 2008. Archived from the original on 11 May 2011. Retrieved 28 August 2009.
  15. ^ East Asia Economic Caucus Archived 2 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine.. ASEAN Secretariat. Retrieved 14 March 2007.
  16. ^ a b Asiaviews.org, Whither East Asia? Retrieved 14 March 2007.
  17. ^ UNT.edu, Asia's Reaction to NAFTA, Nancy J. Hamilton. CRS - Congressional Research Service. Retrieved 14 March 2007.
  18. ^ IHT.com, Japan Straddles Fence on Issue of East Asia Caucus. International Herald Tribune. Retrieved 14 March 2007.
  19. ^ "Regional Financial Cooperation among ASEAN+3". Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Archived from the original on 9 October 2008. Retrieved 29 September 2008.
  20. ^ Jacobs, Sean (6 December 2012). "Is PNG Ready to Join Asean? Not Quite Yet". Jakarta Globe. Retrieved 26 January 2013.
  22. ^ Chongkittavorn, Kavi (20 September 2010). "Is an Asean 12 possible - with Timor-Leste?". Retrieved 7 July 2013.
  23. ^ "PNG keen on full ASEAN membership". The Brunei Times. 30 June 2013. Retrieved 3 October 2013.
  24. ^ "PNG to appoint special envoy for ASEAN". Bernama. Radio New Zealand. 6 August 2015. Retrieved 6 August 2015.
  25. ^ McGeown, Kate (4 March 2011). "East Timor applies to join Asean". BBC News. Retrieved 27 March 2012.
  26. ^ Dua, Nusa (27 March 2012). "I have my own view, SBY tells PM Lee Hsien Loong". Jakarta Post. Retrieved 27 March 2012.
  27. ^ Aquino to back Timor-Leste's bid for ASEAN membership
  28. ^ Timor's key concern: preparing for ASEAN membership
  29. ^ "I have my own view, SBY tells PM Lee Hsien Loong". Jakarta Post. 19 November 2011. Retrieved 3 April 2012.
  30. ^ "Timor Leste is ready to join Asean grouping". Bernama. Daily Express. 11 April 2015. Retrieved 11 April 2015.
  31. ^ Hunt, Luke (27 May 2016). "East Timor Hopes for ASEAN Membership by 2017". The Diplomat. Retrieved 24 February 2017.
  32. ^ "Lao to back Bangladesh for getting observer status of ASEAN". The News Today. 14 June 2011. Retrieved 6 August 2012.
  33. ^ David M. Malone, C. Raja Mohan, Srinath Raghavan (eds.). The Oxford Handbook of Indian Foreign Policy. Oxford University Press. p. 455. ISBN 9780191061189.
  34. ^ V. Suryanarayan (December 27, 2011). "Sri Lanka: Fresh Insights On Attempts To Join ASEAN – Analysis". Eurasia Review.
  35. ^ "Singapore's Rajaratnam prevented Sri Lanka joining ASEAN – The Nation". Asian Tribune. August 7, 2007.
  36. ^ Mervyn De Silva (May 31, 1981). "Sri Lanka: Operation ASEAN". Inida Today.
  37. ^ Charan D. Wadhva, Mukul G. Asher (eds.). ASEAN-South Asia Economic Relations. p. 341. ISBN 9789971902988.
  38. ^ "Let Us Join ASEAN". Daily News. December 1, 2016.
  39. ^ "Sri Lanka becomes the 27th participant to join ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF)". Ministry of Foreign Affairs Sri Lanka.
  40. ^ "Pakistan seeks Indonesian support to join ASEAN". The Express Tribune. June 20, 2012.
  41. ^ Dobell, Graeme. "Australia as an ASEAN Community partner". Australian Strategic Policy Institute. Retrieved 15 March 2018.
  42. ^ Grigg, Angus (15 March 2018). "Indonesian President Jokowi wants Australia in ASEAN, said free trade deal is close". Australian Financial Review. Retrieved 15 March 2018.
  43. ^ Karp, Paul (10 November 2016). "Paul Keating calls for more independent Australian foreign policy after US election". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 March 2018.
Retrieved from "https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Enlargement_of_the_Association_of_Southeast_Asian_Nations&oldid=867868009"
This content was retrieved from Wikipedia : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enlargement_of_the_Association_of_Southeast_Asian_Nations
This page is based on the copyrighted Wikipedia article "Enlargement of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations"; it is used under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License (CC-BY-SA). You may redistribute it, verbatim or modified, providing that you comply with the terms of the CC-BY-SA