The leaders of the ASEAN and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) pledged closer cooperation on a wide range of issues at the summit held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on October 20.

The summit was co-chaired by Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia, and Joko Widodo, President of Indonesia, in his capacity as ASEAN chair, in the presence of the ASEAN secretary-general, Kao Kim Hourn.

In a joint statement released after the meeting, the leaders of the two blocs declared their intention to promote peace, security, stability and prosperity, through mutual respect and cooperation between countries and regions to achieve development and progress and maintain the rules-based international order, international law and the UN Charter.

They recognised the importance of oceans and seas, regarding them as key factors in driving growth and prosperity. They also reaffirmed the importance of maintaining and promoting peace, stability, maritime safety and security, freedom of navigation and overflight in the region.

They also touched at length on trade, commerce, and investment between the two blocs, with Saudi Arabia set to host the first GCC-ASEAN Economic and Investment Conference in Riyadh in the 1st half of 2024.

“We welcome the GCC-ASEAN Framework of Cooperation (2024-2028), which outlines measures and cooperation activities to be jointly undertaken by ASEAN and the GCC in the areas of common interest and for mutual benefit including political and security dialogue, trade and investment people-to-people exchanges, education, culture, tourism, media and sports,” said the statement.

The summit also welcomed the Saudi Arabia’s candidacy to host the 2034 FIFA World Cup.

Strengthening people-to-people ties through education and training, including technical vocational education and training (TVET), were also a priority in their commitment agenda.

Regarding environmental issues and climate change, the leaders showed their support for the United Arab Emirates’ hosting of COP 28, scheduled for December this year. They called for an ambitious and inclusive outcome, noting that nature, as well as peoples’ lives and livelihoods, are at the heart of climate action.