MANILA: The three-day ASEAN summit taking place in the Philippines from Sunday (Nov 12) will culminate in Singapore taking over chairmanship of the regional bloc.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who arrived in the Philippines on Sunday for the 31st edition of the ASEAN Summit and other related events, will deliver brief remarks at the closing ceremony when Singapore officially takes on the role.
Among the duties of the chairing ASEAN state are being spokesperson for the ten members, chairing and facilitating official meetings and task forces, and tabling new initiatives and programmes to advance regional cooperation.
Singapore officials have said that a digital economy and e-commerce will be key themes of the country’s chairmanship. Singapore will also try to promote cooperation between ASEAN and China as the country coordinator for dialogue relations between the two parties, Mr Lee said in an earlier interview with Chinese state agency XINHUANET.
Singapore’s ASEAN chairmanship coincides with the 15th anniversary of the ASEAN-China Strategic Partnership.
At the summit, ASEAN leaders will also take stock of the implementation of the ASEAN Community Vision 2025, and discuss how to take ASEAN forward, the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) said. The Community Vision is a roadmap that outlines how members will collectively achieve political security, economic cooperation and socio-cultural cohesion by working together.
Mr Lee is accompanied by Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Trade and Industry (Trade) Lim Hng Kiang and officials from MFA and Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI). He is also accompanied by his wife, Madam Ho Ching.
ASEAN LEADERS TO EXCHANGE VIEWS ON REGIONAL, INTERNATIONAL ISSUES
As part of the ASEAN Plus Three Summit, the East Asia Summit, and summits with China, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea, and the United Nations, several foreign leaders, including US President Donald Trump, Canadian PM Justin Trudeau and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, will be present.
ASEAN leaders will exchange views on a number of regional and international issues.
Among them is North Korea's nuclear and missile programme, which has dominated Trump’s 12-day Asia tour. This comes on the back of mounting fears that North Korea, which has a nuclear and ballistic missile programme, may one day use its missiles to deliver a nuclear payload to the West.
Most recently, Mr Trump, who was in China as part of his first tour in this part of the world, urged Beijing to cut financial links with North Korea. This came shortly after Trump toned down an ongoing public feud with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un by saying that the US can offer "a path towards a much better future" if North Korea tails back on its programme.
Closer to the region, ASEAN leaders will announce the official commencement of negotiations on the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, the PMO said.
The Code is expected to lay down legally binding rules and guidelines aimed at preventing armed confrontation among countries laying claim over the South China Sea. Countries directly involved include China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei.
ASEAN officials are also expected to discuss the situation in Myanmar’s Rakhine state, a complex, long-standing communal problem involving the Rohingyas. ASEAN foreign ministers in September condemned "all acts of violence" that have caused the loss of lives, destruction of homes and the displacement of large numbers of people.
Leaders will also sign the ASEAN Consensus on the Protection and Promotion of the Rights of Migrant Workers, PMO said.