The 38th and 39th ASEAN Summits were held on 26th – 28th October 2021, under the chairmanship of Brunei Darussalam. The Summits were chaired by Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah. The summits raised the theme of “We Care, We Prepare, We Prosper” in accordance to the theme of Brunei Darussalam Chairmanship on ASEAN this year. The summits aims to maintain the dialogue among ASEAN Member States and focuses on harnessing the caring nature of ASEAN to build a harmonious and resilient Community with the people at its centre; ensuring that ASEAN remains relevant through preparing and adapting for the future where its peoples can seize new opportunities, as well as overcoming existing and future challenges; and creating opportunities for people to benefit through initiatives that enhance the sustainable prosperity of the region. (Chairman’s Statement of the 38th and 39th ASEAN summits)
The 38th ASEAN Summit discussed three main agendas on the ASEAN’s vision and program development which are ASEAN’s work in realising ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and addressing the Covid-19 pandemic; The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP); and an Inclusive and Sustainable Recovery. The dialogue highlighted several important points on vaccine distribution among ASEAN Member States to ensure the equitable of the vaccine access and the importance of the cooperation among the states. It also emphasized the importance of expediting the ratification process of RCEP to its entry by 2022, and the digital transformation on economic affairs to support the sustainable and inclusive regional recovery.
During the 39th ASEAN Summit, the dialogue highlighted the ASEAN position and dialogue with its external partners. ASEAN still upholds its principle of Centrality and unity between its member states and the external partners to address the common challenges the region faces. During this Summit, ASEAN also welcomed the United Kingdom as the first new dialogue partner of ASEAN since China and the Russian Federation in 1996. With UK as a new dialogue partner after 25 years, ASEAN is currently engaged with 11 dialogue partners.
Beside the 38th and 39th Summits which were held during the same occasion this year, ASEAN also held several meetings with dialogue partners namely the 24th ASEAN-China Summit, and 22nd ASEAN-Republic of Korea Summit. The Summits between ASEAN and dialogue partners discussed various topics, namely sustainable recovery in economic development, vaccine distribution and procurement for the ASEAN member states, capacity building and ICT digital transformation on economy, e-commerce, green growth, public health, and access on education.
Due to the recent developments, Myanmar was not invited to the meetings.
Media and Publication Officer at ASEAN Studies Center UGM