East Asia Summit (EAS) is a regional forum comprising 18 member states from the Asia-Pacific region, including ten members of the ASEAN and eight non-ASEAN countries. Read here to learn the significance of the forum.
The 18th East Asia Summit was held in Jakarta, Indonesia on 6-7 September 2023.
The EAS provides a platform for leaders of these countries to discuss various political, economic, and strategic issues facing the region.
The 19th Summit will be held in 2024 in Vientiane, Laos.
East Asia Summit
The East Asia Summit (EAS) is a regional forum comprising 18 member states from the Asia-Pacific region, including ten members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and eight non-ASEAN countries.
The East Asia Summit (EAS) process was initiated in 2005 with the convening of the 1st East Asia Summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
- At its inception, the East Asia Summit comprised 16 participating countries, namely ASEAN Member States, Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, and the Republic of Korea.
- The United States and the Russian Federation joined at the 6th East Asia Summit in Bali, Indonesia on 19 November 2011.
The East Asia Summit has 18 member states:
- ASEAN Member States (10): Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar (Burma), the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
- Non-ASEAN Member States (8): Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Russia, and the United States.
The primary objectives of the East Asia Summit include:
- Promoting Regional Peace and Stability: Enhancing regional security cooperation to prevent conflicts and address common security challenges.
- Facilitating Economic Integration: Encouraging economic cooperation, trade, and investment among member states.
- Addressing Non-Traditional Security Issues: Collaborating on non-traditional security challenges such as terrorism, pandemics, natural disasters, and climate change.
- Promoting Dialogue and Understanding: Fostering dialogue, mutual understanding, and trust among member states.
The EAS is held annually at the leaders’ level, and the meetings provide an opportunity for heads of state or government to discuss regional and global issues. It typically includes various sideline meetings and dialogues on specific topics.
The East Asia Summit has identified six priority areas of cooperation, namely:
- Environment and Energy
- Global health issues and pandemic diseases
- Natural disaster management
- ASEAN Connectivity.
18th East Asia Summit
The 18th East Asia Summit was held in Jakarta, Indonesia on 6-7 September 2023.
- India reiterated the importance of the EAS mechanism and reaffirmed our support to further strengthen it underlined India’s support for ASEAN centrality and called for ensuring a free, open, and rules-based Indo-Pacific.
- India also called for a cooperative approach to address global challenges including terrorism, climate change, and resilient supply chains for essential items including food and medicines, and for energy security.
- India’s steps in the area of climate change and our initiatives such as ISA, CDRI, LiFE, and OSOWOG were also highlighted.
At the 20th ASEAN-India Summit, India presented a 12-point proposal for strengthening India-ASEAN cooperation covering connectivity, digital transformation, trade, and economic engagement, addressing contemporary challenges, people-to-people contacts, and deepening strategic engagement, as follows:
- Establishing multi-modal connectivity and economic corridor that links South-East Asia-India-West Asia-Europe
- Offered to share India’s Digital Public Infrastructure Stack with ASEAN partners
- Announced ASEAN-India fund for Digital Future focusing on cooperation in digital transformation and financial connectivity
- Announced renewal of support to the Economic and Research Institute of ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA) to act as a knowledge partner for enhancing our engagement.
- Called for collectively raising issues being faced by Global South in multilateral fora
- Invited ASEAN countries to join the Global Centre for Traditional Medicine being established by WHO in India
- Called for working together on Mission LiFE
- Offered to share India’s experience in providing affordable and quality medicines to people through Jan-Aushadhi Kendras
- Called for collective fight against terrorism, terror financing, and cyber-disinformation
- Invited ASEAN countries to join the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure (CDRI)
- Called for cooperation in disaster management
- Called for enhanced cooperation on maritime safety, security, and domain awareness
Significance of East Asia Summit
The East Asia Summit is considered one of the most important regional forums in the Asia-Pacific region.
It brings together major regional powers, including China, India, Japan, and the United States, providing a platform for diplomatic engagement and cooperation on a wide range of issues.
The EAS complements other regional forums like ASEAN and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.
The agenda of the East Asia Summit covers a broad spectrum of political, economic, and security issues. Some of the key areas of discussion include:
- Regional Security: Addressing regional security challenges, including territorial disputes, nuclear proliferation, and counterterrorism.
- Economic Cooperation: Promoting regional economic integration, trade liberalization, and sustainable development.
- Climate Change and Environment: Collaborating on climate change mitigation and environmental protection.
- Public Health: Discussing health security issues, including responses to pandemics such as COVID-19.
- Infrastructure Development: Enhancing regional connectivity and infrastructure development.
- Disaster Management: Coordinating disaster response and management efforts.
- Maritime Cooperation: Promoting peaceful resolution of maritime disputes and cooperation in the South China Sea.
India and EAS
India is one of the founding members of the East Asia Summit, which was established in 2005.
India’s participation in the EAS provides it with a platform to engage with major East Asian and ASEAN nations on issues of strategic importance. It allows India to strengthen its political, economic, and security ties with the region.
- Regional Security: The EAS discussions encompass regional security challenges, including maritime security, counter-terrorism, and non-proliferation. India has a significant interest in these discussions, given its strategic location in the Indian Ocean region.
- Economic Cooperation: Economic cooperation and integration are key components of the EAS agenda. India is actively involved in discussions related to trade, investment, and regional economic integration through initiatives like the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which includes many EAS members.
- Disaster Management and Climate Change: The EAS provides a platform for member countries to cooperate on disaster management, climate change, and environmental sustainability. India participates in these discussions given its vulnerability to natural disasters and its commitment to addressing climate change.
- COVID-19 Pandemic Response: The COVID-19 pandemic has brought additional focus on health security and pandemic response. India has actively participated in EAS discussions related to pandemic response, vaccine distribution, and strengthening health systems.
- ASEAN Centrality: The East Asia Summit recognizes the centrality of ASEAN in regional affairs. India’s participation aligns with its Act East policy, which seeks to deepen engagement with ASEAN countries and the broader Asia-Pacific region.
At the East Asia Summit in Bangkok in November 2019, India unveiled India’s Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative (IPOI), which is aimed at forging partnerships to create a secure and stable maritime domain.
In the area of Education, at the 4th East Asia Summit (EAS), held in Thailand on 24-25 October 2009, the EAS Leaders endorsed the proposal for the revival of Nalanda University, to bring together the brightest minds from all the countries of Asia. The idea was first mooted by former President APJ Abdul Kalam in 2006.
APEC vs EAS
The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and the East Asia Summit (EAS) are two distinct regional forums in the Asia-Pacific region, each with its focus and membership.
APEC is a larger and more inclusive forum that includes 21 member economies from across the Asia-Pacific region, including North America (e.g., the United States and Canada), East Asia (e.g., China, Japan, South Korea), Southeast Asia (e.g., Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam), and Oceania (e.g., Australia, New Zealand).
The East Asia Summit is a smaller and more exclusive forum, consisting of 18 member countries. EAS is primarily focused on the East Asian region.
APEC’s primary focus is on promoting economic cooperation and trade liberalization among its member economies. It aims to create a free and open trade and investment environment, reduce trade barriers, and enhance economic integration in the Asia-Pacific region.
The East Asia Summit addresses a broader range of issues beyond economics, including political and security matters. It seeks to promote strategic dialogue and cooperation on regional and global challenges, such as terrorism, maritime security, and non-proliferation.
APEC operates on a voluntary and non-binding basis. Decisions made within APEC are not legally binding, and it functions as a forum for dialogue, cooperation, and consensus-building.
The East Asia Summit allows for more binding commitments, particularly in the realm of political and security cooperation. Member countries may undertake specific actions or agreements to address regional challenges.
APEC’s inclusiveness is one of its defining features, as it brings together a diverse group of economies, including both developed and developing nations, for discussions on economic matters.
EAS has a strong strategic and security-oriented focus, making it distinct from APEC, which primarily focuses on economic matters.
APEC and the East Asia Summit are both important regional forums in the Asia-Pacific region, but they serve different purposes and have distinct memberships.
APEC emphasizes economic cooperation and trade liberalization, while the East Asia Summit addresses a broader range of political, security, and strategic issues in addition to economic matters.
The East Asia Summit plays a vital role in shaping the regional dynamics of the Asia-Pacific and addressing various challenges faced by member states. It reflects the region’s commitment to multilateralism and diplomatic engagement in resolving regional and global issues.
Previous year questions
Q. Evaluate the economic and strategic dimensions of India’s Look East Policy in the context of the post-Cold War international scenario. (2016 Mains)
Q. India is a member of which among the following? (2015)
- Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation
- Association of South-East Asian Nations
- East Asia Summit
Select the correct answer using the code given below:
(a) 1 and 2 only
(b) 3 only
(c) 1, 2 and 3
(d) India is a member of none of them
Q. Consider the following countries: (2018)
Which of the above are among the ‘free-trade partners’ of ASEAN?
(a) 1, 2, 4 and 5
(b) 3, 4, 5 and 6
(c) 1, 3, 4 and 5
(d) 2, 3, 4 and 6
Q. The term ‘Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership’ often appears in the news in the context of the affairs of a group of countries known as (2016)
- Act East Policy: Latest Developments
- Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)
- APEC: Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation
-Article by Swathi Satish