11 July 2024

US Vice President Kamala Harris is scheduled to attend the first ASEAN Indo-Pacific Forum (AIPF), to highlight the importance of the region and the bloc’s ongoing efforts to implement its ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP), according to highly placed sources.

The AIPF, which will be held on September 5 and 6  in Jakarta, on the sidelines of ASEAN-related summits, is considered a flagship event planned by the ASEAN chair. The two-day forum will comprise leaders’ talks, panel discussions, talks with industrial leaders and business matching.

Apart from Harris, the forum has lined up heads of governments from ASEAN dialogue partners, including China, Japan, South Korea, Australia and Canada, the sources said. Representatives from the private sector, international financial institutions and international organisations have also been invited.

The ASEAN-related summits, among them the East Asia Summit, will take place over the same period. Three major issues will be highlighted: green infrastructure and resilient supply chains, digital transformation and the creative economy as well as sustainable and innovative financing.

Under the AOIP framework, there are four areas of priority: maritime cooperation, connectivity, sustainable development and economic cooperation.

Harris is representing President Joe Biden, who will attend the G20 summit in India on September 7 and 8, then proceed to Hanoi, where he will be on September 9 and 10. Last week, the White House announced that Biden will skip the ASEAN-related summit. Last November, he also failed to attend the Asia Pacific Economic Leaders Meeting in Bangkok. Harris attended on his behalf.

The Indonesian chair, who is hosting the summits, views the forum as a great opportunity for the ASEAN and Indo-Pacific region to come together and chart a course for collaboration and growth.

Under the theme “ASEAN Matters: Epicentrum of Growth,” the chair envisages an ASEAN that is poised to become the centre of economic activity in the coming decades. The bloc is home to some of the world’s fastest-growing economies.