Turkey is planning to become a sectoral dialogue partner for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) by the end of this year, Daily Sabah learned from diplomatic sources.
ASEAN was established in 1967 and includes 10 states: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. The ASEAN declaration states that the main aim of the organisation is to accelerate the economic growth, social progress and cultural development of the region. Turkey's decision to establish institutional ties dates back to 1999. Turkey became a signatory of the ASEAN Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC) on 23 July, 2010 and thus, the foundation of sectoral cooperation was laid down. Moreover, in recent weeks Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, whose nation holds the rotating ASEAN chairmanship this year, said that Turkey and Mongolia should join ASEAN. "They [Turkey and Mongolia] want to join ASEAN and since I am now the chair (the Philippines is), they wanted me to sponsor their entry and I said, 'Yes, why not,'" Duterte said. However, Turkey cannot be a full member of ASEAN due to the association's charter rules establishing full membership on geographical grounds.
In recent years Turkey has been intensifying its diplomatic and economic relations with ASEAN-member Southeast Asian countries. "We aim to boost our relations with the region. We, Turkey, would like to be a member of ASEAN, not a dialogue partner. I would like to express that we are ready for this," President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said in 2015 during his visit to the Indonesian capital Jakarta.
Regarding Turkey's sectoral dialogue partnership with ASEAN, Singaporean ambassador in Ankara, Mr. A. Selverajah said in his interview with Daily Sabah that becoming a Sectoral Dialogue Partner would be a good start as this will strengthen Turkey's relations with ASEAN countries both bilaterally and collectively. ‘‘I understand that Turkey is considering becoming a Sectoral Dialogue Partner for ASEAN. Singapore welcomes Turkey's interest in having some form of institutionalized relationship with ASEAN," Ambassador Selverajah said. "There are seven ASEAN embassies in Ankara. We are happy to learn that Turkey has resident embassies in nine ASEAN countries, and will soon open an embassy in the remaining one ASEAN country," he added.
ASEAN is on the rise and the association is becoming a new center of attraction. Together, the 10 ASEAN member states form the seventh largest economy in the world, with a population of 622 million and a total GDP of $2.6 trillion in 2014. ASEAN's total trade in 2014 was $1 trillion, and intra-ASEAN trade comprised 24 percent of ASEAN's total trade in 2014.Of the world's multi-national companies, 227 have a presence in ASEAN, with a total of $1.068 trillion in revenue.