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Thursday, February 22, 2024

EU and Indo-Pacific region’s importance and impact on Pakistan

Recognizing the strategic importance of the Indo-Pacific, the European Union has taken proactive steps to enhance its engagement in the region. In 2018, the EU released its "EU Strategy for India" to deepen its partnership with India and promote connectivity, trade, and investment in the Indo-Pacific.

The Indo-Pacific region spans the vast expanse of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, encompassing countries such as India, China, Japan, Australia, and many others. It serves as a critical maritime trade route, facilitating the movement of goods, services, and ideas between Asia, Europe, and the Americas. The region is home to some of the world’s largest economies and hosts a significant portion of global trade and investment.

Recognizing the strategic importance of the Indo-Pacific, the European Union has taken proactive steps to enhance its engagement in the region. In 2018, the EU released its “EU Strategy for India” to deepen its partnership with India and promote connectivity, trade, and investment in the Indo-Pacific. The EU has also been actively involved in the ASEAN Regional Forum, emphasizing the importance of multilateralism and regional cooperation.

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The EU’s engagement in the Indo-Pacific is driven by several factors

First and foremost, it recognizes the economic potential of the region. The Indo-Pacific economies are experiencing rapid growth, and the EU seeks to tap into these markets to expand its trade and investment opportunities. Strengthening economic ties with the Indo-Pacific can bring numerous benefits to the EU member states, including increased exports, job creation, and technology transfer.

Moreover, the EU’s involvement in the Indo-Pacific contributes to global stability and security. The region faces numerous challenges, including territorial disputes, maritime security issues, and the threat of terrorism. By actively engaging in the region, the EU can play a constructive role in promoting dialogue, conflict resolution, and cooperative security mechanisms. A stable and secure Indo-Pacific is not only in the interest of the countries within the region but also crucial for the global community.

The potential impact of the Indo-Pacific’s developments on Pakistan

Pakistan, as a neighboring country, has a significant stake in the region’s affairs. The Indo-Pacific’s economic growth and integration offer Pakistan opportunities for trade, investment, and collaboration. As the region continues to prosper, Pakistan can benefit from enhanced connectivity, improved infrastructure, and increased regional trade, which can stimulate its own economic growth.

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Furthermore, the EU’s engagement in the Indo-Pacific can be advantageous for Pakistan. The EU is one of Pakistan’s major trading partners and a significant source of foreign direct investment. By strengthening its presence in the Indo-Pacific, the EU can bring additional economic opportunities to Pakistan. The EU’s support for connectivity initiatives and regional integration can also complement Pakistan’s efforts to improve its infrastructure, enhance trade facilitation, and promote regional connectivity.

Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Ms. Hina Rabbani Khar attended the EU Indo-Pacific Ministerial Forum, held on 13 May 2023,  in Stockholm- Sweden,  at the invitation of the EU High Representative Josep Borrell and Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billström.

Speaking at the roundtable discussion on “Building More Sustainable and Inclusive Prosperity Together” the Minister of State called for enhanced cooperation between Europe and Asia-Pacific particularly in trade, investment, and sustainable development.

The Minister of State underscored Pakistan’s role as a trade, investment, and connectivity hub in the heart of Asia which seeks to deepen its engagements with European partners. She appreciated European sustainability and connectivity initiatives like the EU Global Gateway Strategy and the Green Deal. She expressed the hope that the new EU GSP Plus facility would continue to focus on its primary aim of promoting sustainable development and poverty alleviation.

The Minister of State stressed on the importance of recognizing the symbiotic relationship between sustainability and inclusivity in line with UN Sustainable development goals. She also called for avoiding distortions, economic de-coupling, new forms of protectionism, and selective application of norms that can undermine free trade, win-win economic cooperation, and interconnectedness.

The Minister of State emphasized the need for partnerships to deal with emerging global challenges and non-traditional security threats such as climate change, pandemics, water, energy, and food security. She proposed greater collaboration between the EU and Asia-Pacific countries for research and capacity building with a focus on sustainability, green economies, agriculture, and digital connectivity.

In Stockholm, the Minister of State also held bilateral meetings with the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden Tobias Billstrom, EU High Representative Josep Borrell, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of UAE NouraAlkaabi, UK Minister of State Lord Tariq Ahmad, Counsellor of the US Department of State Derek H. Chollet, and Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs of Thailand VijavatIsarabhakdi.

Her visit is rated a successful one and may lead to opening several; avenues of cooperation and collaboration. Pakistan may be benefitted if a well-designed strategy is opted for.


Author: Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan, Founding Chair GSRRA, Sinologist (ex-Diplomat), Editor, Analyst, and Non-Resident Fellow of CCG (Center for China and Globalization). (E-mail: awanzamir@yahoo.com).     

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.