ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Retreat, 17 – 18 January 2019
Thailand hosted the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Retreat on 17 – 18 January 2019 in Chiang Mai. The Retreat was the first ASEAN ministerial gathering under Thailand’s Chairmanship. The ASEAN Foreign Ministers and ASEAN Secretary-General were warmly welcomed by the Governor and the people of Chiang Mai.
The ASEAN Foreign Ministers had fruitful discussion on ASEAN’s priorities for the year ahead. They expressed their full support for Thailand’s ASEAN Chairmanship theme on “Advancing Partnership for Sustainability” and stressed the importance of continuity of priorities of previous ASEAN chairs into the next few years. They also supported Thailand’s priorities including digital and green ASEAN, seamless ASEAN, the conclusion of Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) in 2019 and on “Sustainability of Things” aimed at promoting sustainability in all its dimensions. They also welcomed Thailand’s plan to promote complementarities between the ASEAN Community Vison 2025 and the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, particularly the launch of the ASEAN Centre for Sustainable Development Studies and Dialogue (ACSDSD) in Thailand this year.
The ASEAN Foreign Ministers discussed the way forward on the ASEAN Community-building process, the strengthening of ASEAN relations with external partners, as well as reinforcing ASEAN-centred regional architecture. The Meeting also reaffirmed the validity, relevance and importance of principles of the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC) in the current geo-political context and agreed to the request of Peru accede to TAC.
The ASEAN Foreign Ministers exchanged views on regional and international developments. The Ministers supported an enhanced visible ASEAN’s role, through the role of ASEAN Secretary-General and the AHA Centre, to help Myanmar address the humanitarian and repatriation issues in the Rakhine State. They also welcomed the ASEAN Secretary-General’s role to ensure close coordination on the Needs Assessment Mission within ASEAN.
The ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Retreat was the first meeting that will serve as a strong beginning to Thailand’s ASEAN Chairmanship in 2019.