Foreign Minister Baerbock prior to her departure for the Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore

10.01.2024 - Press release

Foreign Minister Baerbock issued the following statement today (10 January 2024) prior to her departure for the Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore:

The ASEAN countries are more than 10,000 kilometres away. And yet the economic momentum in Southeast Asia and the strategic significance of this region can be felt as far as Europe. For it is located at the epicentre of global growth – and at the same time is grappling with the increasingly fierce political winds blowing in the face of the rules-based international order in the South China Sea.

Germany is not only connected to Southeast Asia through close economic ties. We are also united by our common stance on the need for clear rules in interactions between states. And these are currently coming under pressure in the South China Sea, where, for example, China is becoming increasingly assertive in its claims on extensive sea areas reaching right up to the shores of the other coastal states. The freedom of shipping routes, the security of supply chains and consequently global economic development are at stake here – in a region through which a third of global marine trade flows.

To prevent these fierce winds from escalating into a perfect global storm, it is important to maintain a clear focus on international law – while providing scope for diplomatic initiatives, détente and dispute resolution. In my conversations, I want to explore how Germany could contribute to initiatives organised by the ASEAN partners.

Germany is already helping the coastguard in the Philippines to maintain and expand maritime security. We are also united by the desire to cooperate even more closely in the field of climate action. Cooperation between our skilled workers also harbours significant potential. Thousands of Philippine care workers already perform vital services in Germany. It is important to me that we find out how we can continue to learn from one another and expand our cooperation.

Malaysia is our most significant trading partner in Southeast Asia; it has been a key investment location for German enterprises for many years and is driving forward the crucial diversification of supply chains. At the same time, I am eager to better understand the perspective of a Muslim-majority country on the war in the Middle East as well as to expound our position.

As a hub of global infrastructure, on which an export economy like Germany’s depends, Singapore is a gateway to the world. Yet it is also a melting pot of cultures and ideas. With its globally minded outlook and its close relations with China, the city-state is a bridge-builder of inestimable value.

I intend to use my visit to Southeast Asia as an opportunity to build another bridge with the region and to cement our relations.


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