September 8, The Iran Project – Removal of anti-Iran sanctions following a landmark nuclear deal last year, has paved the ground for amendment of relations between Iran and other international organizations, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in particular.
Thank to its valuable resources, energy reserves, unique geopolitical and geo-economic position, Iran enjoys cordial relations with the countries of Southeast Asia.
So far the Iranian officials have announced that the top priority of the Islamic Republic’s foreign policy is to expand all-out relations with other countries, Southeast Asia in particular and promote constructive ties based on common interests.
Originated in 8 August 1967 in Bangkok, ASEAN is a regional organization comprising 10 Southeast Asian states, namely Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Brunei, Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia.
It seeks to promote intergovernmental cooperation and facilitate economic integration amongst its member nations.
In 2015, the block’s combined nominal GDP had increased to more than US$2.8 trillion. If ASEAN were a single entity, it would rank as the fifth largest economy in the world, behind the USA, China, Japan and Germany.
Iran Accession to TAC
Recently Tehran has agreed to join to ASEAN Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC) aimed at tackling Iranophobia.
Endorsed by founding countries Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, and Singapore in 1976, the Treaty aims to uphold perpetual peace, everlasting amity and cooperation among their peoples which would contribute to their strength, solidarity and closer relationship.
On July 2016, ASEAN foreign ministers, met in Vientiane, the capital city of Laos, and approved Iran’s request to accede to the TAC.
Undoubtedly, economic collaboration is considered as the most important kind of regional ties because countries alone do not provide all the factors of production and in this context, are faced with boundaries.
On the other hand, economic collaboration brings prosperity, wealth and authority and paved the ways for governments to accomplish political and security goals.
Fostering ties between Iran and East Asian countries as the regional cooperation is the key for the widespread and costly ties with China, India and Russia and extend economic cooperation with Asian countries on energy and transit.
Without doubt, it would redefines the importance of the policy approaches to Iran’s foreign policy as a regional power so that Iran’s position and capabilities particularly in energy and energy security and transit have provided a good background for boosting cooperation with eastern countries.
In this regard, ASEAN is a region to burgeon these capabilities.
ASEAN Strategic Situation
The bloc enjoys the strategic situation and has access to a large capacity of 600 million people. It is also woth mentioning that some 50% of the population of this organization are Muslims.
Furthermore, this region is considered as a bridge between other countries such as Australia and New Zealand and given the interaction policies, it has maintained close interactions with different countries.
Considering the cultural-religious similarities with Iran and Muslim-Majority, more cooperation should be witnessed in near future.
In the end, it should be noted that the bloc is also considered as an opportunity to access other markets. In fact, the Islamic Republic of Iran can offer the conditions for participation in this market through commercial agreements signed with several countries in the region and their enforcement plus planning for the physical presence including deployment of business counselors, marketing bodies and holding specialized exhibitions.
A large number of experts also believe that the economic relations between Iran and the ASEAN countries can be seen as a step forward fostering regional economic system.
Touching upon Iran’s cultural and religious commonalities with ASEAN members, the Islamic Republic of Iran has good opportunities for mutual interaction.
It is also important to note that expansion of relations between Iran and ASEAN would remove the obstacles hindering fostering of ties with the block’s members.