Israel focuses on developing diplomacy with ASEAN member countries. Photo/Reuters
JAKARTA – Israel once had a “Pivot to Asia” policy. This shows that Israel has great interests, especially in countries that are members of ASEAN.
Israel claims to have produced stunning dividends in bilateral relations with the two Asian giants, China and India. Some of that success has spread to ASEAN member states in the form of significant interest in technology, research and development, agriculture, and strategic cooperation with the Jewish state.
However, several ASEAN countries kept their Israel ties out of the public eye and voted in favor of anti-Israel resolutions in international forums.
Why is ASEAN important to Israel?
More than 640 million people live in the group of ten countries that make up ASEAN: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR (Laos), Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. It includes democratic, communist, and monarchical countries, with Muslim, Buddhist, and Catholic populations, each at a different stage of economic and social development.
But ASEAN countries are bound together through musyawarah (consultation) and muafakat (consensus), which is known colloquially as the “ASEAN way.” This is a concept that any foreign country should understand before engaging with Southeast Asia.
Launching the AJC, formed in 1967, ASEAN acts to strengthen cooperation between geographically connected countries. It doesn’t have the economic clout of a customs union like the European Union or the military clout of alliances like NATO, but it is a global center of manufacturing and trade and one of the world’s fastest-growing consumer markets.
Here are 7 ASEAN member countries that have established diplomacy with Israel.
Diplomatic and commercial relations with Vietnam, established in 193, have continued to expand. The two countries received a tremendous boost from the March 2017 visit by President Reuven Rivlin, the first Israeli leader to visit Vietnam.
Annual bilateral trade is worth over USD 700 million (as of 2016) and a Free Trade Agreement is currently being negotiated. More than 2,000 Vietnamese students are studying in Israel and the two countries work closely together in agriculture, information technology and biotech.