Türkiye’s Relations With The Asia-Pacific Region

It is now apparent that the defining theme of the 21st century will be the rise of the Asia-Pacific region. The rise started primarily in the economic field but its political, military and cultural implications have gradually begun to manifest themselves. The region is in the midst of a rapid development process and consequently many regional countries are increasingly seen as important actors. The Asian continent contains around 60 percent of the world population, and almost 40 percent of the world economy. As such, any political, military, economic development in the region as well as developments regarding environmental impacts of industrialization, access to food/raw materials and energy resources have global affects.

Türkiye is also an Asian country, among its many vocations. We have historic, cultural, linguistic and religious ties with a wide range of countries along the ancient Silk Road. In line with our enterprising and humanitarian foreign policy and in view of the growing economic and political significance of the Asia-Pacific, we have put into effect policies geared towards opening up to the region, which has gained considerable depth in recent years. In August 2019, we announced the “Asia Anew Initiative”, to introduce a new vision into our policies towards the continent from a comprehensive and holistic perspective.

Since 2010, we have elevated our relations to strategic partnership with six countries in the region: China, Japan, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia and Singapore. We have widened our diplomatic network in the region by opening new Embassies in Naypidaw, Phnom Penh, Bandar Seri Begawan and Vientiane between 2012-2017. This brings the number of our diplomatic representations in the region to 15.

Türkiye has close cooperation with the regional countries at international platforms such as in the UN, G-20, IOC and MIKTA. Türkiye’s accession to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation of ASEAN in 2010 and membership of the Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) in September 2013, as well as active participation in the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) as Dialogue Partner and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as Dialogue Partner are all reflections of our desire to associate with as many different sub-regions of the Asia-Pacific as possible.

Türkiye’s bilateral trade with the Asia-Pacific region has increased dramatically in the recent years. Total trade volume has scaled up from 17 billion USD in 2004 to 75 billion USD in 2021. Direct investment from the countries in the region to Türkiye had reached 7.6 billion USD by the end of 2017.

Türkiye has signed Free Trade Agreements in the region with South Korea, Malaysia and Singapore so far.

We regard ASEAN as the key regional organization in the Southeast Asia region with its combined GDP amounting to the 8th biggest economy in the world, the 4th largest trading entity with a dynamic population of nearly 650 million and located in the middle of strategic sea routes.

Thus, we pay special attention to developing our ties with ASEAN. In this regard, we gained ASEAN’s Sectoral Dialogue Partner status at the 50th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in 2017, in Manila, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of ASEAN.

Foreign Ministers of Türkiye and the Pacific Islands convened in Istanbul in April 2008, marking the first major event that brought Türkiye and the Pacific Island countries together. We also hosted the Türkiye - Pacific Small Island Developing States (PSIDS) Foreign Ministerial Meeting in 2014, held under the theme "From Bosporus to the Pacific: Continued Cooperation for Sustainable Development”. In 2021, we contributed to the Pacific Resilience Fund (PRF) which was established within the Pasific Island Forum (PIF) in order to tackle the negative impacts of climate change on the Pasific Island Countries.

Türkiye supports the dialogue process in Southern Thailand and contributes to the Southern Philippines Peace Process as the Chair of the Independent Decommissioning Body (IDB) since its establishment in 2014. We also follow closely the situation of the Uyghur Turks, Rohingya Muslims and Muslims in general in Myanmar. Since 2012, Türkiye’s humanitarian aid in various fields ranging from health, education, infrastructure as well as providing shelters and basic needs to more than one million Rohingya Muslims located in the refugee camps in Bangladesh reached 70 million USD.

Türkiye is committed to assisting and supporting developing countries in their efforts towards sustainable development and growth. Our development aid notably through Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TİKA) has also been contributing to our increased visibility in the Asia-Pasific region as well as in other parts of the world. Moreover, we have donated medical supplies and equipment to several countries in the region upon their request during the Covid-19 pandemic.