Sunday 10th November 2019 – On 31st October until 4th November, Heads of States of ASEAN gathered in Bangkok for the 35th ASEAN Summit. With this year’s theme of “advancing partnership for sustainability”, Heads of States reiterated the importance of continuity and sustainability, and committed to continue promoting partnership in the interest of sustainability within ASEAN and the international community as a whole. This includes strengthening ASEAN-led rostrums such as ASEAN Plus One, ASEAN Plus Three (APT), and the East Asia Summit (EAS).
The opening ceremony saw speeches from the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and an opening statement from the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand General Prayut Chan-o-cha. In his opening statement, he emphasised the importance of an ASEAN community that is “peaceful, prosperous, people-centred” and one that leaves “no one behind”, alluding to the economic development gap between more developed ASEAN countries and the lesser developed.
Related summits that occurred subsequently include the 22nd ASEAN-China Summit, the 16th ASEAN-India Summit, and the 10th ASEAN-UN Summit.
Points of discussion in the ASEAN Summit included plans to sign the world’s largest regional free trade pact. Thailand stated that it hopes to conclude negotiations on this trade deal by the end of the year. Other points of discussion included maritime issues in Vietnam, a joint-bid to host the 2034 FIFA World Cup, and measures to prevent plastic waste imports.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo reiterated on this issue on his Instagram account. He highlighted how it “violates international rules regarding plastic waste” and expressed his hopes for “cooperation with countries in the world […] to prevent the illegal shipment of B3 waste”. In addition, he expressed how ASEAN also faces a marine plastic waste issue in which, if not addressed immediately, will drastically affect the region’s marine ecosystem.