6 June 2024

After more than two decades of relations, ASEAN and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) will reportedly hold their first summit in Jakarta in October.

An informed source said that this summit will take place in October after the 43rd ASEAN-related summits, due to time constraints. The two organisations established ties in 1990 through annual meetings on the side lines of the UN General Assembly in New York. The meeting was upgraded to full ministerial level in 2009. The five GCC countries are Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The first ASEAN-GCC Ministerial Meeting was convened in June 2009 in Manama, Bahrain and saw the adoption of the ASEAN-GCC Joint Vision. This outlined a study, to be undertaken by both sides, and their joint recommendations on the future of ASEAN-GCC relations regarding a free trade area, economic cooperation and development, culture, education and information.

Under the Indonesian chair, ASEAN has further reached out to the Middle East, to broaden engagement with the oil-rich region. As a result, Saudi Arabia will accede to the ASEAN Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC) at the annual ministerial meeting next month. Since 2019, Riyadh has been discussing with ASEAN the plan to sign the TAC, which is a set of regional principles to promote peace and prosperity.

Saudi Arabia will become the fifth country in the Middle East to sign the TAC. Iran was first in 2018, followed by Bahrain in 2019 and United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Oman in 2022.

The summit signifies the importance of cooperation between ASEAN and the Gulf states.