The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)-Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit will be held on the upcoming Friday in Riyadh.
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)-Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit will be held on the upcoming Friday in Riyadh. This summit is being eagerly awaited by the Gulf as it will set new pathways for economic progress other than the West. The GCC member nations are actively striving to reduce their dependence on carbon revenues, which has led them to look for suitable avenues in the Asian region. This has put economic diversification at the top of the agenda for the summit.
Apart from the economic motives, GCC is strategically planning for the geopolitical balance as well. This was the result of Iran’s tilt towards the Eastern powers, who were burdened with sanctions and isolation from international podiums. This rift between the GCC and Iran has now shifted from the MENA region to the Asian continent. This has cautioned GCC to focus more on its geopolitical move outside the Persian Gulf. Turkey is another contender in the Asian region, which is aligning its national interest with diplomacy and improving ties.
Saudi Arabia is the major leader of the GCC bloc, which is headquartered in its capital city of Riyadh. The Kingdom is the driver of GCC’s involvement in Asia for various structural changes that affect it domestically and regionally as well. The United Arab Emirates is also playing a pivotal role in pushing the council interests in Asia due to the regional market potential.
Saudi Arabia’s motivation is fueled by geopolitics, given Iran’s improved ties with Eastern powers, whereas the UAE is looking for economic diversification. Qatar is also in this race to lure Asian investments to build itself as a commercial hub. Other countries like Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman also have a vested interest in Asia and have begun nurturing their ties with the ASEAN nations.
Major areas of interest happen to be in the fields of energy, defence, security, digital infrastructure, etc. GCC members are looking for crude infrastructure, real estate and Agri products in the ASEAN region. Similarly, ASEAN countries are vouching for the hundreds of billions of cash surplus from oil operations. A multi-year plan is to be devised during the summit or after it for targets to be achieved in the upcoming years. Both sides are inclined towards their interests but also realise the importance of enhancing relations for economic ties and business relations.
This summit will foray into other areas apart from energy. This reflects the Middle Eastern need for economic diversification and the importance of ASEAN members as well because they count on investors from the Gulf countries to increase their domestic capabilities.
ASEAN countries are relying on oil money also because they want to reduce their dependence on China. The recent supply chain issues and antitrust image of Beijing have made them realise the need for an alternative. Recently. The pressure from the US on its allies to shift their supply contracts to other countries is also a concern for these smaller nations. Gulf countries could also expand their foothold in the South Pacific islands under their Asian drive.
GCC is playing cautiously to not hamper its ties with China as it is one of its most strategic partners and a large consumer of their oil. China even supplies them with advanced technology and aids in building their domestic defence capabilities. However, the diversification of economic resources is also important for the GCC, as China and ASEAN countries are an untapped market with huge potential for them.
The GCC is not so dependent on China that it could be influenced by them. Beijing is watching everything closely as it is aware of the relations of the US and GCC and is not naive to think that their involvement in the Saudi-Iran deal could affect the US-Gulf relations.