Thursday

28th May 2020

Australian PM wants EU-style bloc for Asia-Pacific

  • Mr Rudd suggests Asian-Pacific community would loosely follow the EU's integration path (Photo: Council of the European Union)

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has suggested that Asia and Pacific countries, including the region's heavyweights such as China, India and Japan, form a regional bloc similar to the European Union.

"The key thing is to enhance security and regional co-operation, which at present is fragmented," Rudd said in a radio interview on Wednesday (4 June), AFP has reported, after he presented the idea during an address to the Asia Society of Australasia.

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He argued that an "Asia-Pacific Community" could be founded by 2020 as a forum for tackling climate change and terrorism, as well as settling territorial conflicts, such as over Kashmir, the Taiwan Straits and the Korean peninsula.

Furthermore, it could serve as a trade platform to help exploit the benefits of the looming economic power of the region, which he thinks will be "at the centre of global affairs" throughout this century.

"Put simply, global economic and strategic weight is shifting to Asia," he said.

Commenting on possible comparisons with the 27-strong European Union - which is set to enlarge further - Mr Rudd said that it does not serve as "an identical model of what we would seek to develop in the Asia-Pacific, but what we can learn from Europe is this: It is necessary to take the first step," according to Radio Australia.

His suggestions come shortly after a similar process of regional integration has resulted in the creation of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR), set up by a founding treaty signed last month.

The new supranational and intergovernmental body has combined two previously existing customs unions – Mercosur and the Andean Community – with 12 participating countries, including Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela, Bolivia, Peru and Chile.

Its institutional structure directly copies the EU model, with UNASUR's headquarters to be located in Quito, Ecuador, a South American parliament seated in Cochabamba, Bolivia, and a 'Bank of the South' to be situated in Bogota, Colombia.

Other regional groupings inspired by Europe include a single market without trade barriers for goods and services agreed by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), as well as the African Union.

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