World Leaders Gather In Jakarta For Asia-Africa Conference

April 20, 2015 –¬†34 Heads of State from the Asian and African Continent will meet at the Asia-Africa Conference in Jakarta this week. The five-day Afro-Asia Summit is held once in 10 years, and this is the sixth meeting of the group.

Some leaders will remember how they resisted the overtures from two rival camps, to form the Non-Aligned Movement at the height of the Cold War. To stay current with changing global developments, the movement evolved into the New Asian African Strategic Partnership, or NAASP in 2005.

It also allowed member countries to switch their focus from diplomatic training and technical cooperation, to a business forum. But some say a stronger external push will be helpful.

Dinna Wisnu, Director of Paramadina Graduate School of Diplomacy says the New Asia Pacific Strategic Partnership has not been as effective as it wished to be: “First and foremost, it is because the members themselves are not at the position to use this framework to build cooperation with the member states. The terms of cooperation are not suitable with the reality of the matters including economic conditions that they have to face.

She added: “What I’m saying is, for instance, what the member states in Asia-Africa need are investment. And the investment resources are not coming from the member states – instead, the major source of investment comes from China.”

Still, trade between the two continents has grown from US$2.8 billion in 1990 to US$270 billion by 2012, as bilateral deals gained prominence. However, host Indonesia wants economic and other cooperation on a higher multilateral level.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said: “NAASP provides a practical approach which focuses on eight areas of cooperation. The document does not only stop on priority areas of cooperation but goes beyond such priorities. It contains operational mechanisms which entail the full cooperation of Asia-Africa countries so as to ensure its effective implementation.”

There are hopes Asian and African officials will meet more often under the NAASP framework. Some see it as a vehicle to exchange views on regional and global challenges such as terrorism and climate change in addition to economic issues. Its members account for 75 per cent of the world’s population and 28 per cent of global GDP, figures that highlight the possibilities of bringing positive change to billions of people.


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