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Asia Anew, ASEAN Anew…

Volkan Yüzer

Initiated by the T.R. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and further accelerated with the valuable support of the T.R. Ministry of Trade, the Asia Anew Initiative is a great opportunity to develop constructive and sustainable relations with this new centre of gravity in the global economy.

And it is especially addressed in the talks about our relations with China today. This is understandable given that China has the world’s second-largest economy, and the global order has begun to take shape largely through the great power competition between China and the US. However, Asia Anew focuses not only on China but the entire Asia Pacific region. So, we need to keep our attention on an area covered by the 10 member countries of ASEAN, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. I will give you two reasons for that.

First, we don’t want to discover the region from scratch; our aim with the Asia Anew Initiative is to “return” to the lands that we already have strong ties with. And ASEAN countries are all located in an area that Turkey has deep roots historically. Our ties with this geography date back to the relations that the Ottoman Empire had established with the Muslim population that lived in today’s Indonesia and Malaysia in the 16th century. The common cultural values and historical heritage that these relations represent form a powerful foundation for our new relations with the ASEAN. Turkey has maintained economic relations with the region, contributed to the post-conflict peace talks in many countries, and provided humanitarian aid whenever needed. That is why the initiative is called Asia “Anew”; it is built on already established strong ties.

The other reason that we put ASEAN at the heart of our relations with Asia is that the economic integration and development of the region is shaped around ASEAN today, despite the two economic superpowers that are China and Japan. And the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement signed recently brings together 15 countries in Asia, including China and Japan. We are talking about almost half of the population and economic size of the world here. However, we must remember that RCEP has been established over the existing free trade agreements (FTAs) within ASEAN and bilateral FTAs that ASEAN signed with countries such as China, Japan, and Korea. There is also the fact that the world’s industry and manufacturing leaders such as China and Japan owe their success to their practical use of the supply chains that we can find all over ASEAN. In other words, ASEAN becomes the key that brings and keeps together the economies of the Asia-Pacific region…

ASEAN is also a key for Turkey. And we must use this key well to maintain our economic relations with the entire Asia-Pacific, not just the 10 member countries of ASEAN. That is why we continue our activities at DEİK and call everyone to join in our ASEAN Anew adventures that we have set out for along with Asia Anew.

Regional Director, Turkey-Asia Pacific Business Councils Volkan Yüzer

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