Minister for Foreign Affairs Tobias Billström takes part in EU Indo-Pacific Ministerial Forum and ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting
On 1–2 February 2024, Minister for Foreign Affairs Tobias Billström is taking part in the third EU Indo-Pacific Ministerial Forum and the subsequent ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting. Both events are being held in Brussels.
“The Indo-Pacific region is becoming increasingly important for Sweden and the EU. Our regions need to intensify the political dialogue on our common challenges and opportunities, particularly with regard to free trade, the green transition and geopolitical tensions. I look forward to following up on the important discussions we had in Stockholm on 13 May last year, when Sweden hosted the previous EU Indo-Pacific Ministerial Forum,” says Mr Billström.
The EU Indo-Pacific Ministerial Forum gathers foreign ministers from the EU and the Indo-Pacific region. Josep Borrell, the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, is leading the meeting. The purpose of the Ministerial Forum is to promote dialogue and solidify the partnership between the EU and the Indo-Pacific region. It is an important platform for identifying and shaping common visions. Discussions are expected to centre on geopolitics and security, trade and prosperity, and the green transition.
That same day, Mr Billström will also take part in the ASEAN-EU ministerial meeting led by Mr Borrell and the Phillippines’ Secretary of Foreign Affairs Enrique Manalo. The meeting is expected to focus on the strategic partnership between the EU and the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN), the future course of EU-ASEAN relations, and regional and international issues.
The Indo-Pacific region
The Indo-Pacific region extends from the east coast of Africa to the Pacific Island Countries. Three fifths of the world’s population live in this region. It accounts for 60 per cent of global GDP, two thirds of global growth and 40 per cent of the EU’s total imports. The region is at the leading edge of digitalisation and technology, and is critical to addressing global challenges, such as global warming. In 2021, the EU Strategy for Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific was adopted. The EU intends to increase its engagement in, and build partnerships with, the region, with the aim of strengthening the rules-based world order, tackling global challenges and laying the foundations for long-term, equitable and sustainable growth and prosperity. The EU’s engagement builds on the principle of the rule of law and protection of human rights, fundamental freedoms and international law. It also builds on international agreements such as the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement and their goals for sustainable development and addressing climate change. Openness and inclusion are defining elements of the EU’s approach to cooperation in the region and with parties engaged in the region.