The Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) was inaugurated in June 2002 in Cha-Am, Thailand, where 18 Asian Foreign Ministers met together for the first time. The ACD is a continent-wide forum, the first of its kind in Asia. More specifically, the ACD aims to constitute the missing link in Asia by incorporating every Asian country and building an Asian Community without duplicating other organizations or creating a bloc against others. A key principle is to consolidate Asian strengths and fortify Asia's competitiveness by maximizing the diversity and rich resources evident in Asia. The core values of the ACD are positive thinking; informality; voluntarism; non-institutionalization; openness; respect for diversity; the comfort level of member countries; and the evolving nature of the ACD process.
Since its inception, the ACD has rapidly developed in two dimensions, namely, dialogue and projects.
On the dialogue dimension, ACD Ministers have met annually at the ACD Ministerial Meetings to discuss ACD developments, issues of regional cooperation and ways to enhance and solidify Asian unity. In between, Foreign Ministers also meet on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in September to update each other on the progress of ACD project cooperation, to hold constructive discussions on international issues of concern and to strengthen the 'voice of Asia' in the international arena.
On the projects dimension, currently, many countries have proposed to be prime movers in 20 areas of cooperation, such as energy, agriculture, biotechnology, tourism, poverty alleviation, IT development, e-education and financial cooperation.
At the community level, Thailand hosted the First ACD Think Tanks Symposium in December 2004 and has put together an ACD Think Tank Network composed of academic institutions, development networks and research groups nominated by ACD countries to serve as the academic arm of ACD. The objectives are to conduct in-depth study and support the development of the ACD as well as facilitate prime mover projects.
Thailand initiated the ACD to be a continent-wide cooperative framework guided by positive thinking and the comfort level of participants. The ACD aims to consolidate Asian strengths and fortify Asia’s competitiveness by maximizing the diversity and rich resources in Asia.
Currently, the ACD comprises 34 countries: Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Kazakhstan, Republic of Korea, Kuwait, Kyrgyz Republic, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Philippines, Oman, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Turkey and is awaiting the accession of Nepal as the 34th Member on March 2016 at the 14th Ministerial Meeting in Bangkok, Thailand.
|1. Bahrain||2. Bangladesh||3. Brunei Darussalam||4. Cambodia|
|5. China||6. India||7. Indonesia||8. Japan|
|9. Republic of Korea||10. Lao PDR||11. Malaysia||12. Myanmar|
|13. Pakistan||14. Philippines||15. Qatar||16. Singapore|
|17. Thailand||18. Vietnam|
|19. Kazakhstan||23. Bhutan||27. Russia||29. Tajikistan|
|20. Kuwait||24. Iran||28. Saudi Arabia||30. Uzbekistan|
|21. Oman||25. Mongolia|
|22. Sri Lanka||26. UAE|
|31. Kyrgyz Republic||32. Afghanistan||33. Turkey||34. Nepal|
The main objectives of the ACD are as follows:
- To promote interdependence among Asian countries in all areas of cooperation by identifying Asia's common strengths and opportunities which will help reduce poverty and improve the quality of life for Asian people whilst developing a knowledge-based society within Asia and enhancing community and people empowerment;
- To expand the trade and financial market within Asia and increase the bargaining power of Asian countries in lieu of competition and, in turn, enhance Asia's economic competitiveness in the global market;
- To serve as the missing link in Asian cooperation by building upon Asia's potentials and strengths through supplementing and complementing existing cooperative frameworks so as to become a viable partner for other regions;
- To ultimately transform the Asian continent into an Asian Community, capable of interacting with the rest of the world on a more equal footing and contributing more positively towards mutual peace and prosperity.
The core values agreed upon at the Meeting are an important and unique aspect of the ACD. The ACD is meant to serve as the missing link in Asian cooperation while constituting an informal and non-institutionalized forum for Asian Foreign Ministers to regularly exchange views on issues of mutual interest. The ACD is an incremental and evolving process. It is characterized by a top-down nature and emphasizes positive thinking, inclusiveness and the comfort level of all participants.
At the Cha-Am Meeting, Ministers agreed to develop two dimensions of the ACD, namely, dialogue and projects. The dialogue dimension is aimed at promoting interaction and the participation of ACD Ministers and Government officials. A continuous dialogue is seen as essential in maintaining a constant rapport, in particular between ACD policy makers. On the projects dimension, countries are encouraged to volunteer to become 'prime movers' in areas of cooperation of their interest and to develop each project to the advantage of Asian countries.