EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has said the Indo-Pacific region is becoming the world’s centre of gravity, both in geo-economic and geo-political terms.
Terming the Indo-Pacific as a dynamic region, he said the region is also the future, but insecurity and tensions are rising, threatening the order and balance of this vibrant region.
“The key point to make here is that economic growth of this region rests on openness, on stable and shared rules, and shared security,” said Josep Borrell, the EU’s High Representative for foreign affairs and security policy.
He made the remarks while sharing the EU approach to the Indo-Pacific at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Jakarta, Indonesia on Thursday.
Josep Borrell said the EU has significant stakes in the region and it is the top investor and development assistance provider for the Indo-Pacific and one of its biggest trading partners.
The Indo-Pacific creates 60 percent of global GDP and two-thirds of global growth. It is the second largest destination for EU exports; and home to four out of the top ten EU trading partners, said the EU in a statement issued in Jakarta.
By 2030, the overwhelming majority (90 percent) of the 2.4 billion new members of the middle class will come from this region, reads the statement.
However, the EU foreign policy chief said amid all this dynamism, the regional stability is increasingly challenged; maritime and land disputes, internal crises and conflicts, and the US-China geo-political competition is intensifying.
“We see the consequences around the world, but most sharply in this region. A clear sign is the strong regional military build-up.”
Borrel said the Indo-Pacific’s share of global military spending increased from 20 percent in 2009 to 28 percent in 2019 and is rising further. “That means countries in this region are investing heavily in their militaries, as they are not sure what the future holds. It is a sign of a worsening regional security landscape.”
In regards to Covid-19 pandemic, the EU High Representative said they favour vaccine multilateralism and believe that COVAX is the best way to ensure the access to vaccines by low and middle-income partner countries in this region. “We put our money where our mouth is, and the EU is now the second largest contributor to COVAX with over EUR 2.4 billion.”