Island Times 23 October 2020
The German Government adopts Policy Guidelines for the Indo-Pacific region.
In the past few years, the importance of the Indo-Pacific region in both economic and political terms has increased markedly. The political and economic balance is increasingly shifting towards Asia and the Indo-Pacific region. More than half the world’s population lives in countries around the Indian Ocean and the Pacific. The region accounts for almost half of global GDP. At the same time, the strategic competition in the region is increasing.
The Indo-Pacific is becoming key to shaping the international order in the 21st century.
Shifting geopolitical power structures in the Indo-Pacific have a direct impact on Germany
and the EU at large: Our economies are closely connected through global supply chains.
Major trading routes pass through the Indian Ocean and the Pacific. Open markets and free trade are crucial for Germany as a trading nation. The share of the broader region including South and East Asia in Germany’s trade balance has risen steadily in recent decades and now amounts e.g. to over 20 % of our total trade in goods or just under 420 billion euro (2019).
With its Policy Guidelines for the Indo-Pacific, the German Government is setting out the
course for its future policy on the countries of the region. The guidelines affirm Germany’s shared resolve to engage even more actively as an actor and partner in the Indo-Pacific region and to help maintain the rules-based order there. They provide a coherent policy framework for the German Government’s numerous ongoing and planned measures in the Indo-Pacific.
Germany is working ever more closely on a wide range of policy issues with many states in the Indo-Pacific region, not least in the framework of the Alliance for Multilateralism, but also in other forums such as G20, G7 and UN, as well as in bilateral formats. This cooperation is of great value to us, and we want to expand it.
The core interests of the German Government are safeguarding peace, security and stability as well as diversifying and deepening relations and reliable partnerships. In addition, we will also intensify cooperation in the fields of culture, education and science.
Hegemony and the consolidation of bipolar structures would endanger an approach
comprising deepened and diversified partnerships in the region. No country should – as in
the Cold War – be forced to choose between two sides or fall into a state of unilateral
dependency. Freedom of choice regarding membership of economic and (security) policy
structures is vitally important.
Securing open markets and free trade, as well as open shipping routes are equally essential:
More than 90 percent of the world’s foreign trade is conducted by sea, a large part of which via the Indian and Pacific Oceans. The share of the countries of South Asia, Southeast Asia, East Asia as well as Australia and New Zealand in Germany’s trade in goods has risen steadily in recent decades and now amounts to over 20 percent (2019).
The German Government firmly believes that rules-based free trade enhances prosperity on both sides. It supports efforts to strengthen the multilateral trading system with the WTO at its center, as well as inclusive and sustainable free trade agreements in the Indo-Pacific region, and is committed to their conclusion by the EU.
Furthermore, promoting digital transformation and connectivity is of essence: Economic
growth and prosperity depend more than ever on connecting regions, markets and machines, and on expanding key technologies. When developing connectivity, it is important to facilitate fair competition, to avoid over-indebtedness on the part of the recipient countries and to ensure transparency and sustainability.
At the same time, we must not forget that economic growth has also led to rising emissions which are a burden on both the global climate and our planet’s ecosystems. In the interests of future generations, we must ensure that growth is environmentally friendly and socially compatible. Moreover, natural resources must be managed sustainably, unique biodiversity preserved and the challenges of urbanization addressed.
Stronger political, economic and security policy networks in and with the region leads to a reduction of unilateral dependencies and preserves both the ability to act and sovereignty.
Germany and the EU are committed to the close integration of the region into multilateral
organizations and forums such as the G20 and to the promotion of regional multilateral
structures within the framework of a network of partnerships, provided that the participating states enjoy a level playing field. Multilateral agreements are the most effective way to make progress in climate and environmental protection, rules-based trade, disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation, as well as the protection of human rights.
The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea as a comprehensive maritime regulatory and
cooperation framework and the freedoms of navigation enshrined therein are universal and aim at contributing towards a rules-based international order. Germany is prepared to promote the enforcement of rules and norms in the region. In other areas, such as
environment, labor and trade, dealing with pandemics, human rights and arms control, the best way to achieve progress is through regional or international regulatory frameworks and structures.
To tackle the common challenge for the world’s climate, we intend to step up our cooperation with partners in the region in all aspects of climate policy, from adaptation to climate change, protection of biodiversity, to promoting renewable energies and energy efficiency. Germany is committed to collaboration and assistance in order to substantially reduce emissions. We will also increase bilateral and regional cooperation to reduce marine litter and to protect marine ecosystems. Last but not least, we are committed to expand our projects on lowemission, with an emphasis on supporting smallholders.
By opening this new chapter of cooperation with the region Germany intends to substantially contribute to a secure, stable and prosperous Indo-Pacific region.