Munich Personal RePEc Archive

ASEAN and African relations: towards a renewed partnership ?

Kohnert, Dirk (2021): ASEAN and African relations: towards a renewed partnership ?

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Abstract

The ASEAN summit of October 2021 showed the increased geopolitical importance of the Indo-Pacific realm. Today ASEAN is the most successful regional organization in Asia and the second largest worldwide behind the EU. The establishment of the New Asian-African Strategic Partnership (NAASP) more than 15 years before (2005) aimed to revive the Bandung spirit of the non-aligned movement of 1955. This time with a stronger focus on economic ties. In 2013 these countries counted around 620 million inhabitants or 8.8% of the world population. They wanted to fight colonialism and neocolonialism by promoting Afro-Asiatic economic and cultural cooperation. Almost all member countries gained sovereignty and political independence by the 1960s and 1970s, except for Palestine. However, the aftermath of the Bandung conference also promoted negative developments, including the polarization of Asian countries, the strengthening of political authoritarianism, and regional interventions. In addition, most countries continued to grapple with economic and political challenges, including poverty, debt burdens, backwardness, ignorance, disease, and environmental degradation. Their access to the markets of the industrialized countries also remained limited. At the global level, the NAASP received little attention so far. Despite the longstanding rhetoric of Asia-Africa solidarity, Asia and Africa still lack formal institutional and trade links. Although interregional trade increased, Africa remained a small part of ASEAN with only around 2% of its total market. The most important trading countries of ASEAN with Africa were Thailand, Indonesia, and Singapore, while South Africa, Nigeria, and Egypt were the largest African import markets.

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