The East Asia Summit (EAS): Notes for IAS Exam

The East Asia Summit (EAS) is a forum held annually by leaders of 18 countries. Initially, 16 countries in the East Asian, Southeast Asian and South Asian regions were the members of the forum. The membership expanded to 18 countries including the United States and Russia at the Sixth EAS in 2011. 

This article will talk about the EAS in brief in the context of the IAS Exam.

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History of the East Asia Summit

The concept of an East Asia Grouping has a significant history going back to an idea first promoted in 1991 by then Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.

The final report in 2002 of the East Asian Study Group, established by the ASEAN Plus Three countries, was based on an EAS involving ASEAN Plus Three, therefore not involving Australia, New Zealand, or India.

For the uninitiated, ASEAN Plus Three (APT) is a forum that functions as a coordinator of co-operation between the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the three East Asian nations of China, South Korea, and Japan.

The EAS as proposed was to be an ASEAN-led development, with the summit to be linked to ASEAN summit meetings. However, the issue was to which countries beyond those in ASEAN the EAS were to be extended.

The decision to hold the EAS was reached during the 2004 ASEAN Plus Three Summit and the initial 16 members determined at the ASEAN Plus Three Ministerial Meeting held in Laos at the end of July 2005. S

Since its establishment, ASEAN has held the central role and leadership in the forum. EAS meetings are held after the annual ASEAN leaders’ meetings and plays an important role in the regional architecture of Asia-Pacific. The first summit was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on 14 December 2005.

To know more about the Great East Asiatic Conference, visit the linked article.

Members of East Asia Summit

The following are the members of East Asia Summit

East Asia Summit Members

Countries  Capital City Heads of Government
Australia Canberra Prime Minister Scott Morrison
Brunei Bandar Seri Begawan Hassanal Bolkiah, Sultan of Brunei
Cambodia Phnom Penh Prime Minister Hun Sen
China Beijing Premier Li Keqiang
India New Delhi Prime Minister Narendra Modi
Indonesia Jakarta President  Joko Widodo, 
Japan Tokyo Prime Minister Shinzō Abe
Laos Vientiane Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith
Malaysia Kuala Lumpur Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin
Myanmar Naypyidaw Counsellor of Myanmar Aung San Suu Kyi
New Zealand Wellington Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern
Philippines Manila President Rodrigo Duterte, 
Russia Moscow Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin
Singapore Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong
South Korea Seoul President Moon Jae-in, 
Thailand Bangkok Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha
United States Washington DC President Donald Trump
Vietnam Hanoi Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc

What is the need for the East Asia Summit?

The EAS is expected to provide a political impetus and commitment to a process that is already on, i.e., the East Asian countries are feverishly interacting economically with each other like never before. The intra-East Asian trade has reached over 55 per cent from about 40 per cent a decade back, and much of regional direct investments are increasingly inward bound.

This is happening despite the absence of a region-wide, overarching organisation and is entirely driven by market conditions. Theoretically, strong political support through an institutionalised structure will boost this process and may even result in regional integration. Such integration is expected to address two issues. One, greater interdependence will be a disincentive for countries to become militarily aggressive, and two, many of the existing security problems are unlikely to flare up into conflicts because of certain common, critical stakes.

Find a list of the important summit and their venues by clicking on the linked article.

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