ASEAN, 2023 a year of challenges and opportunities


The coming year may further strengthen the economic and diplomatic role of the bloc of Southeast Asian countries, which could also welcome a new member

2022 was the year when ASEAN and Southeast Asia proved to be a platform, indeed "the" platform par excellence, of economic and diplomatic restart at the global level. Not just greater resilience to inflationary pressures, the region posted excellent economic recovery numbers despite all the difficulties associated with the tail end of the Covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine. More. The success of the various multilateral summits held in the area, between G20 in Indonesia and APEC in Bangkok, confirms ASEAN's ability to be considered a reliable diplomatic interlocutor. This is despite some grey areas and unresolved problems, chief among them the crisis in Myanmar on which the Cambodian rotating presidency, despite several attempts, has failed to make significant progress. There will be no shortage of challenges in 2023, but the feeling is that the Indonesian presidency will do all it can to seize the opportunities. After hosting the G20 in Bali, the bloc's largest economy is projecting strongly on its role as a regional leader. Jakarta will thus aim to create a network of intra-regional cooperation ranging from climate change and cyber defense to the digital economy and food security, the latter of which is placed among its 2023 priorities. It is also possible that a decisive boost will come to the entry of an eleventh member into the Association: East Timor. There are those who raise misgivings about the different conditions of Dili's economy with that of the bloc's more advanced countries, but ASEAN will never fully overcome its inherent diversity, but it is proving to be able to exploit it as a strength and a point of pride. ASEAN has managed to prevent the emergence of conflicts between major powers and regional wars since the end of the Cold War, when Vietnamese troops withdrew from Cambodia in 1989, paving the way for the 1991 Paris Peace Accords. The bloc overcame the Asian financial crisis by expanding intra-regional trade and promoting a common foreign exchange regime. More recently, the East Asia Summit successfully brought outside powers to its table, including the United States, China, Russia, Japan and Australia, strengthening the bloc's diplomatic power. The ASEAN "third way" seems to be a path to be pursued more and more decisively.

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