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Synopsis: Europe is ready for a new Indo-Pacific relationship. The new EU and Indo-Pacific relationship are mutually beneficial. Further, the EU can aid the Indo-Pacific region to become globally competitive.
When the global economy crashed in 2020, economies such as Vietnam and China grew. A number of Asia’s open societies showed how to successfully contain the virus. Further, the world depends on India to end the pandemic for its capacity as a vaccine exporter.
At present, one can observe three types of Asian countries.
- Firstly, Asia of business – This includes Asian countries with open, dynamic, interconnectedness.
- Secondly, Asia of geopolitics – This includes Asian countries with nationalistic policies, territorial conflicts, arms races, etc. Geopolitical rivalries threaten free trade.
- Lastly, Asia of global challenges – This includes countries that lack cooperation in fair globalization and getting climate crisis.
The European involvement in the Indo-Pacific:
- Recently, the German government has for the first time adopted certain guidelines for the Indo-Pacific.
- European countries are the key trading, technology, and investment partner for many countries of the region. Germany alone now conducts one-fifth of its foreign trade with the Indo-Pacific countries.
- Recently the EU has concluded free trade agreements with Japan, Singapore, and Vietnam.
- China remains a key economic partner for the EU.
- The EU and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations(ASEAN) concluded a strategic partnership. This connects the EU with the South-East Asian Countries.
- The EU is the biggest supporter of the international vaccine platform(COVAX). Further, India as a leading producer of vaccines is the most important COVAX supplier. The benefits of this platform are beyond the Indo-Pacific region.
- Europe also supports human rights and the promotion of democracy in the region. For example,
- Sanctions against those responsible for human rights violations in Xinjiang
- Sanctions against Myanmar’s generals following the Myanmar coup.
Suggestions to improve the European presence in the Indo-Pacific:
The European strategy for the Indo-Pacific must include all three Asia’s into account.
- The time for the EU is running short. Because in 2020 the countries of East and Southeast Asia created the world’s largest free trade area(RCEP). The RCEP(Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership) includes one-third of the global economy. So Europe has to act swiftly and starts negotiations for FTA’s with Indonesia and India.
- The EU should not neglect the developed economies of Asia like Japan, South Korea etc.
- Europe must take a stand against polarisation and geopolitical rivalry. Further, the EU can also advise on inclusive, rules-based Indo-Pacific.
Advantages for EU engaging with Indo-Pacific:
- Europe can set standards for new technologies, human-centered digitization, and sustainable connectivity.
- Europe can improve its innovation and economic strength as well as its regulatory power at a global level.
- Indo-Pacific is the biggest emitters of CO2 in the world(China and India contribute to that). The EU can invest in renewable energies, climate protection and biodiversity in the region.
Upcoming engagement of EU in Indo-Pacific:
- The EU aims to launch a connectivity partnership with India in the upcoming EU-India Summit.
- To ensuring fair market access and investment conditions in Asia, the EU will hold meetings with the US.
- This week, Germany and Japan are going to undertake Ministerial discussions on challenges in free trade and security in the region.
- Further, France and the Netherlands also started their work on a European strategy for the Indo-Pacific. The strategy is expected to be in place by the end of the year.
In conclusion, Europe is ready for a new partnership that focuses on all three types of Asian economies. Further, it will focus on dialogue with open Asia, taming geopolitical rivalry in Asia, and providing solutions to the Asian Challenges.
Source: The Indian Express