Jakarta for Closer Asian Ties
Daily Star Online
January 25, 2004
cooperation benefits one and all. Perhaps, understanding the importance
of this, the focus of the bilateral talks recently
held between the Bangladeshi and Indonesian leaders was on
the creation of a greater regional forum. One, that could foster
closer relations between the Asian economies, so as to especially
fight the challenges posed by globalisation successfully.
Bangladeshi Prime Minister Khaleda Zia and Indonesian President
Megawati Soekarnoputri held summit level talks on January 24, 2004.
As reported by the Daily Star (January 25, 2004), the two
leaders agreed on the need for a larger forum comprising the SAARC
(South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation and the ASEAN
(Association for South-East Asian Nations) countries in this regard.
the framework of bilateral talks, the two leaders also discussed
regional international issues of common concern, including enhancing
trade and economic cooperation.
need felt by smaller Asian economies of a greater regional forum
is important as it
often provides them with powerful bargaining power (through their
regional affiliation) in international negotiations which is often
lacking under individual representation. Underlining its significance,
the Indonesian president assured the prime minister of her country’s
support for Bangladesh’s membership in the ASEAN Regional Forum
also expressed her hope to see Bangladesh’s representation in the
next Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit which will also mark the
50th anniversary of the Afro-Asian Conference that led to the formation
of the NAM.
the issue of terrorism, acording to the Daily Star, the Indonesian
President emphasised on sharing of information and intelligence
among Asian countries for effectively combating the problem in the
talks concluded with signing of MoUs on establishment of joint commission on
trade and on comprehensive trade and economic partnership.
Press and Information Bureau Press Release
January 12, 2004
technology (ICT) ministers of over 40 countries met in Hyderabad
on January 12-13, 2004 to discuss core issues such as bridging the
digital divide and standardisation of economic development by way
of exploiting information technology (IT) at the second Asian IT
consensus emerged on issues such as regional approach to cooperation
and sharing of best practices in IT in different Asian countries
so as to bridge the digital gap within the region.
IT ministers made presentations on their countries’ experience in
using IT in e-governance, bridging the digital divide, education,
computer literacy, information kiosks, village networking, rural
upliftment, market penetration and other issues. Issues such as
standardisation of IT development in Asia, digitisation of culture,
construction of broadband network environment in the region, Internet
affordability, financial solutions to the digital divide, policy
changes were deliberated upon.
roadmap for the sector includes joint research projects on recognising
each other’s digital signatures if a crime is committed under the
IT Act; collaboration on supercomputer facilities; showcasing e-governance
projects and sharing experiences; describing
the telemedicine standards and its facilities; and community information
centres of different countries
and ASEAN Sign MoU
ASEAN Press Release
January 11, 2003
and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on Saturday
signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on cooperation in the
field of non-traditional crime issues, pressing ahead their joint
efforts in combating trans-national crime. The memorandum was signed
at a ceremony on January 10 at the end of the one-day ASEAN plus
China, Japan and South Korea ministerial meeting on combating trans-national
crime held in Bangkok.
the memorandum, China and ASEAN would improve their joint efforts
to combat non-traditional crimes through information sharing, personnel
exchange and training and law-enforcement cooperation. The memorandum
put China and ASEAN's ongoing cooperation program and workshop on
combating non-traditional crimes into words and set down medium-and
long-term goals for further cooperation in this field.
Nations Intensify Cooperation to Fight Transnational Crimes
ASEAN Press Release
January 8, 2004
ASEAN Ministers overseeing the issues of transnational crime, gathered
on 8th January 2004 in Bangkok, to discuss ways of combating transnational
crime affecting the region and to enhance cooperation towards this
end. The Ministers welcomed agreement to establish an ASEAN Security
Community which among others envisage the utilization of the existing
institutions and mechanisms within ASEAN for strengthening national
and regional capacities to counter terrorism, drug trafficking,
trafficking in persons and other transnational crimes. The approach
sought by the ministers was to take a comprehensive and coordinated
approach in addressing the various areas of transnational crimes
that have links to terrorism. The ministers also pushed for accelerating
the implementation of the Work Programme to implement the ASEAN
Plan of Action to Combat Transnational Crime. They also recognised
the need for an effective legal cooperation to enhance the fight
against transnational crime and acknowledged that the provision
of mutual legal assistance in criminal matters and extradition agreements
can be a tool towards this. Finally, the ministers welcomed
the extra-regional cooperation with the ASEAN Dialogue Partners
in combating transnational crime and acknowledge the progress that
has been made in this area. They also held talks with the ASEAN+3
ministers in the inaugural ASEAN Plus Three Ministerial Meeting
on Transnational Crime on 10th January 2004.
important issue with regard to transnational crime is that
countries define offenses differently, and what is illegal in one
jurisdiction may be legal just across the border in another country.
The ministers at this meeting aimed to coordinate their countries'
laws to combat trans-national crime, including terrorism.
The Heads of Governments of the seven South Asian countries met
for the Twelfth South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation
(SAARC) summit in Islamabad from January 4-6, 2004. The summit was
hailed as one of the most successful in the history of SAARC as
the leaders of the Twelfth SAARC summit adopted the Islamabad Declaration,
the South Asia Free Trade Area (SAFTA) Framework Treaty and the
Additional Protocol to the Regional Convention on Suppression of
landmark South Asian Free Trade Area (SAFTA) agreement was a pledge
to scale down tariffs in the region in two phases to 0-5 per- cent
by January 1, 2006, which will be fully implemented by December
agreement, signed at the start of the concluding session of the
three-day SAARC summit, seeks to allow free cross-border movement
of goods within the region. The accord will be implemented through
the following instruments: trade liberalization programme; rules
of origin; institutional arrangements; consultations and dispute
settlement procedures; safeguard measures and any other instrument
that may be agreed. Under the trade liberaliza-tion programme, the
member countries agreed that Non-Least Developed States - India,
Pakistan and Sri Lanka - will reduce their tariffs from their existing
levels to 20 per-cent within a timeframe of two years from the date
the agreement is coming into force. It was agreed that the Least
Developed Countries (LDCs) - Bangladesh, Nepal, the Maldives and
Bhutan - will reduce their existing tariff rates to 30 per- cent
within two years of the coming into force of the agreement.
few important declarations that were signed as the part of the Islamabad
text are as follows:
leaders reiterated their commitment for the creation of a South
Asian Economic Union and stressed on the examination of prospects
for setting up of a South Asian Development Bank by the SAARC finance
through the Council of Ministers.
twentieth year of the establishment of the SAARC, the year 2005
has been designated as South Asia Tourism Year.
leaders hailed the signing of the SAARC Social Charter as a historic
development. Issues covered under the Charter such as poverty alleviation,
population stabilisation, empowerment of women, youth mobilisation,
human resources development, promotion of health, nutrition and
protection of children are key to the welfare and well being of
all South Asians.
leaders declared the Year 2004 as the SAARC Awareness Year.
welcomed the establishment of a SAARC Cultural Centre in Kandy and
the early establishment of the Coast Zone Management Centre in the
leaders agreed to the institution of the SAARC Award and decided
to present it during the summits in future as well as the establishment
of a SAARC Information Centre in Kathmandu.
the leaders expressed the determination to develop mutually beneficial
links between SAARC and other regional and international organisations,
bodies and entities and agreed to establish dialogue partnership
with other regional bodies and with states outside the region, interested
in SAARC activities.