ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) was established in 1967 and incorporates ten member states: Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Besides maintaining regional stability, the goal is above all the economic integration and improvement of the regional competitiveness.
Every year, a different member state takes on the ASEAN Chair. In 2018 Singapore presides as Chair.
ASEAN has established a free trade zone, the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA), through gradual tariff reductions. The AFTA agreement came into effect on 1st January 2003. The free trade zone between the six states (ASEAN-6) that had signed the “Singapore Declaration” in 1992, has largely been realized since 2010. The four countries which had joined later - Vietnam (1995), Laos and Myanmar (1997) and Cambodia (1999) - were granted a transitional period. With the implementation of AFTA being almost complete, tariffs are no longer an impediment to intra-ASEAN trade. However, the reduction of non-tariff barriers progresses much more slowly.
The ASEAN Charter, which came into effect on 15th December 2008, gave the ASEAN cooperation more impetus, particularly in the areas of politics and security, as well as culture and society. The Charta sets the foundation for further development of the ASEAN community and also makes it a legal entity. Furthermore, it contains the declaration of the ASEAN states on the rule of law, democracy as well as good governance. The establishment of a Committee of Permanent Representatives of the ASEAN states at the ASEAN secretary in Jakarta was an important step towards a better institutionalized cooperation.
In November 2012, at the 21st ASEAN summit, the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD) was adopted:
ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD)
This has provided ASEAN with a regional instrument on the protection of human rights, even if the content of this nonbinding document has been criticized as being too weak.
Currently more than 90 states have appointed their own Ambassadors to ASEAN. The German-ASEAN Ambassador, Michael Freiherr von Ungern-Sternberg, is also accredited to Indonesia and Timor-Leste.
The Federal Government places great emphasis on the long-standing close relationships of many years between Germany and ASEAN, and supports the further development and strengthening of the EU-ASEAN relations. Already during the German EU-presidency in 2007, both regions agreed upon a substantial deepening of relations, the
Since 2016, Germany has the status of a Development Partner of ASEAN. The diverse portfolio of joint projects and programs is discussed once per year in a formal meeting between all ASEAN Member States, the ASEAN Secretariat and the Gemran Ambassador to ASEAN.
The EU is one of the most important partners to ASEAN. The EU and AESAN concluded a Dialogue Partnership as early as in 1977.
Germany supports the process of regional integration in South-East Asia and thereby the strengthening of the ASEAN institutions.