Jakarta. International experts say Indonesia must more actively address issues identified by the Association of South East Asian Nations, or Asean, to ensure that the value of regional cooperation remains relevant to the country.
Dino Patti Djalal, founder of the Foreign Policy Community of Indonesia, said Indonesia must play a bigger role to push the effectiveness of the Asean Economic Community (AEC) as the plan to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership does not seem relevant after the exit by the United States.
"We need more effective efforts to boost the Asean grassroots movement. For years, the cooperation has only been relevant for the upper classes, government officials, diplomats and political elites. If you ask common people – sometimes they do not even know what the AEC is," Dino said in Jakarta on Tuesday (24/01).
"We need an ambitious national campaign in 2017 that informs people about the AEC and how we can benefit from it. Indonesia is the largest economy in the region but only the fourth-largest exporter to other Asean members," he added.
Meanwhile, Philips J. Vermonte, executive director of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), said considering recent geopolitical shifts, Indonesia must revive its cooperation with Asean.
He said mainland Asean states have begun to develop connectivity projects, such as those pioneered by Thailand and Malaysia, but little cooperation has been made in a maritime context.
"Not much has happened so far in Asean's maritime region, which is solely controlled by Indonesia and the Philippines. It is important for governments to push the maritime agenda forward," Vermonte said.
He added that the region must also review what it has been doing and what needs to be done in a move to boost future economic cooperation.