This week I am in Jakarta attending an East West Center-sponsored discussion of ASEAN integration – including all three pillars of ASEAN. Also this week were a few items of note affecting the ASEAN Economic Community:
- The EU stated that it would station a resident ambassador to ASEAN, based in Jakarta. As the EU is one of the major donors to ASEAN, this is surprising only in that it comes after the other major trading partners have already stationed or planning to station resident ambassadors to ASEAN. What remains to be seen is whether this move will spur calls to resume the ASEAN-EU free trade agreement talks that stalled several years ago due to capacity problems in ASEAN and political controversy over negotiating with the Myanmar military regime. Perhaps the capacity problems may have eased, but Thailand is now run by a military regime and Myanmar’s political transition will continue to play out in 2015.
- Indonesia agreed to unlimited flights from ASEAN cities to Jakarta under the ASEAN Open Skies agreement. Similar open access to other Indonesian cities awaits further commitment from Indonesia. Manila is the only remaining ASEAN capital without unlimited flights.
- Malaysia will host the ASEAN Risk Assessment Food Center for Food Safety (ARAC). According to Malaysia, ARAC will be the sole organization within Asean to coordinate and integrate risk assessment activities on food safety.