East Asia Summit | IAS Target IAS Target

East Asia Summit

The East Asia Summit (EAS) is a regional forum held annually by leaders of countries in the Southeast Asian, East Asian, and South Asian regions. ASEAN has held the central role and leadership in the forum. EAS meetings are held after the annual ASEAN leaders’ meetings and play an important role in the regional architecture of Asia-Pacific. The first summit was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on 14 December 2005.


  • 16 (ASEAN + Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea).
  • Later USA and Russia joined at the 6th EAS in 2011, so now 18 members.

Members: Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, Myanmar, Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos + Australia, China, Japan, India, New Zealand, South Korea, Russia and the U.S.
Facts about EAS
  • Half the world’s population and
  • 58% of global GDP

The chair of ASEAN is also the chair of the EAS

2018 Chair Singapore
2019 Chair Thailand

EAS objectives

  • Regional peace, security and prosperity
  • For strategic dialogue and cooperation on the key political, security, and economic challenges facing the Indo-Pacific region

Focus area of EAS

  • Environment, Ecology, Biodiversity and Energy
  • Education, specially using digital technology to promote education
  • Natural and man-made Disaster specially climate change and their Management
  • Finance and focus on infrastructure
  • Global Health Issues and Pandemic Diseases
  • ASEAN Connectivity

India and EAS

  • India has been participating in the EAS since its very inception in 2005.
  • The RCEP, involving 10 ASEAN members as well as China, Japan, Australia, India, New Zealand, and South Korea
  • India is a founding member of the East Asia Summit.
  • India’s commitment to a balanced Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).


  • China-Japan and China-India they are not only competitors but their strategic, geopolitics and economic interest are dissimilar so the consensus is challenging on any issue
  • The growing number of minilateral alignments among the more militarily capable regional powers and vast differences in their military budgets undermines the objectives of regional peace, security, and prosperity.
  • China and India compete not only in investment but the market, security, and political influence.
  • EAS discuss on a wide agenda, but it is challenging to pay attention to all issues without any institutional mechanism to follow up on set agenda. So as compared to cultural and political/ security agenda, a general understanding that the economic agenda will be pursued more vigorously
  • No institutional structure, it is more ASEAN centric and ASEAN driving grouping
  • Instead of geopolitical rivalry, the trade matters will be taken up on priority towards building pan-Asian free trade area

Importance of EAS for India

  • India doesn’t enjoy the APEC membership, so by joining EAS India can serve its interest in the Indo-pacific region
  • 21st century belongs to two Asian powers and this justify by India membership in the EAS because of India's fast-growing economic and political clout
  • Joining EAS, fit into India's Act policy to build multi-faceted relations with ASEAN and other nations of the Pacific region and East Asia
  • ASEAN countries look toward India as a counter player that could balance a rising China, especially China's assertiveness in the region (south-china sea) and its modern imperialism through OBOR and debt trap policy toward small countries.
  • During the 2008 economic crisis, the EAS as a group evolved at considerably higher rates. So, deeper integration with the EAS members, helped India to maintain its high growth rate. This becomes more important when the world facing a trade war threat
  • The Region is significant for trade as an important sea lane of communication, so freedom of passage in the international waters, this area becomes crucial for India
  • India’s strength lies in the service sector and information-technology and Japan has a sound capital base. Thus, there are complementarities in trade and production structures of the EAS members.
  • For the implementation of connectivity projects, like the India-Myanmar-Thailand trilateral highway, Kaladan multilateral projects, etc and building new trade and transport linkages with all the EAS member states, the summit gains significance.
  • There are prospects of the Indian private sector being involved in defence production and supplies which will greatly improve India’s defence diplomacy in the region. India has also conducted naval exercises with almost all the EAS members and is actively participating in counter-terrorism efforts under the ASEAN, ARF, and BIMSTEC frameworks of sub-regional 40 groupings.
  • India’s deep cultural and civilizational links with the EAS countries are widely known. India can play a major role in cultural and people to people cooperation in the region, which can strengthen the economic momentum for community building.
  • India focuses on much closer integration in the EAS region, including monetary integration. EAS could also provide energy to fulfill India's insatiate demand for energy. So energy security helps India to reduce dependence on gulf and price escalation due to cartel's whim. India’s infrastructural sector will need investments of more than US$500bn in the coming years. The East Asian countries are already involved in India’s infrastructural sector and they can take further advantage of the opportunity available.

Though India is not a part of the TPP negotiations, it is an important part of the RCEP negotiation process and India's involvement is win-win for all, especially in areas of economic growth, connectivity, maritime security, terrorism, non-proliferation and irregular migration. Hence, this growing partnership attaches benefits for all countries in the region even not part of the EAS.
East Asia is the world’s most dynamic economic region as well as one of its most challenging security environments. Maintaining regional integrity through cultural connectivity is crucial. The other initiatives could include the creation of an Asian currency unit as a unit of account to facilitate intra-regional trade and production networking.
While the region is facing similar regional issues like claims and counterclaims on the territorial and maritime boundary. So EAS could serve as a platform to sit down and solve all issues harmoniously and avoid the blame game and work for comprehensive growth to achieve the SDG 2015-30.
India’s participation in EAS symbolizes its continued commitment to strengthening engagement with ASEAN member states and with the wider Indo-Pacific region, which has ramifications for RCEP, India’s Act East policy, and its stature as global power significant in Indo Pacific.