In his visit to Chile on September 1998, Goh Chok Tong, who later became the Prime Minister of Singapore, proposed to Eduardo Frei, who later became the President of Chile, several suggestions as efforts to increase cooperation between East Asia and Latin America. As a follow-up of the suggestion, EALAF (East Asia - Latin America Forum) was officially launched in the 1st Senior Officials' Meeting in Singapore in September 1999. After that, at the First Ministerial Meeting (1st PTM) in Santiago, Chile on March 29-30, 2001, EALAF member countries agreed to change the EALAF name to FEALAC (Forum for East Asia and Latin America Cooperation).
FEALAC was established primarily to promote comprehensive cooperation and bi-regional dialogues. Since its establishment, FEALAC is the only inter-governmental cooperation forum that connects East Asian region and Latin American region with a total trade volume of USD 267 billion in 2011. Currently, FEALAC represents 40% of the world population, 32% of the world economy and more than 40% of the world trade. FEALAC consists of 36 member states comprising 16 East Asian countries including ASEAN (10 ASEAN countries, China, Japan, Mongolia, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand) and 20 Latin American countries (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Dominican Republic , Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela).
Member countries elect Regional Coordinator, one from each region, and Co-Chairs in the Working Group meeting. The two take turns in hosting the Ministerial Meeting, Senior Officials' Meeting (SOM) and the Working Group meeting.
A. Foreign Ministers' Meeting (FMM)
The Foreign Ministers’ Meeting is attended by Foreign Ministers of member countries and it is held once in two (2) years. FMM is the highest decision-making body in FEALAC and makes decision by consensus to achieve the objectives of FEALAC, to approve of major projects, to adopt and approve FEALAC official documents as well as to accept new member countries.
1st Foreign Ministers' Meeting
Changing the name from EALAF to FEALAC.
Ratifying the “Framework Document" (The objective of Forum establishment, the direction and scope of cooperation)
2nd Foreign Ministers' Meeting
Ratifying "Manila Plan of Action" which contains details of the efforts to increase bi-regional understanding and cooperation
3rd Foreign Ministers' Meeting
Ratifying "Brasilia Declaration" which contains statement on the importance of cooperation to address global issues such as climate change and the Doha Development Agenda, as well as to strengthen cooperation in trade, investment and regional financial institution
4th Foreign Ministers' Meeting
Ratifying "Tokyo Declaration" which evaluates FEALAC activities in the last 10 years and emphasizes the need for bi-regional cooperation in facing global crisis and approves the establishment of FEALAC Cyber Secretariat by South Korea
5th Foreign Ministers' Meeting
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Ratifying "Buenos Aires Declaration" on global governance mechanism, promoting bi-regional cooperation, preparing joint stance of FEALAC member countries on global issues, plan to promote cooperation between FEALAC and regional financial and economic institutions, such as ECLAC, IDB, ADB, ESCAP, and the establishment of Vision Group which has the task to prepare medium-term objectives and long-term objectives of FEALAC
B. Senior Officials' Meeting (SOM)
SOM is attended by senior officials and has the task to monitor the proceedings of the Working Group meetings and to make practical decisions regarding FEALAC. SOM has the task to give approval for the proceedings of Working Group meetings and other important meetings, report such matters in the FMM and select the main topics to be discussed in the FMM. SOM is held at least once a year, before or after the FMM.
The 13th SOM was held in Bogota, Colombia on October 17, 2012 with the following results:
1. To adopt the recommendation and report the results of three Working Group meetings.
To submit the proposed agenda for the 14th SOM on the efforts to promote FEALAC cooperation and to increase the number of bi-regional projects to complement existing national projects.
2. To report the results of the first and second meeting of FEALAC Vision Group (FVG) in Seoul (March 11-13, 2012) and in Lima (October 11-12, 2012). The final report is expected to be completed before the 6th FMM and the 14th SOM.
- Colombia became the host of the 3rd FVG Meeting in Cali, Colombia, in late January up to early February 2013.
- Indonesia becomes the host of the 4th FVG Meeting in Bali, Indonesia in 2013 before the 6th FMM.
3. Activities related to the Empowerment of Cyber Secretariat
- Member countries agreed to further intensify the use of Cyber Secretariat to improve coordination and cooperation.
- The 13th Senior Officials’ Meeting appreciates the role of FEALAC Cyber Secretariat as communication media between FEALAC National Focal Points.
4. Indonesia will become the host of the 6th FMM in Bali on June 13-14, 2013 which is preceded by the 13th SOM and FEALAC Working Group meeting.
C. Working Group (WG)
The Working Groups maintain the sustainability of FEALAC activities and are responsible as the project managers that prepare the detailed specifications of bi-regional cooperation plan. There are 3 (three) Working Groups, namely: (a) WG on Politics, Culture, Education and Sports/WG I, (b) WG on Economy and Society/WG II; (c) WG on Science and Technology/WG III, and one (1) Sub-Working Group on Tourism. Each working group selects one (1) co-chair from each region. The Working Groups hold a meeting once a year to discuss projects improvement and development and reports the results to SOM.
In the first decade of its establishment, FEALAC has evolved from a dialogue forum to a more solid and stable mechanism to establish cooperation. FEALAC is considered as a forum which can play a role in promoting sharing of knowledge and best practices between the two regions in facing global challenges.
Considering that the world today is facing challenges that are multi-dimensional and interconnected such as economic and financial crisis, social injustice, energy and food security, nutrition, natural disasters caused by human activities, transnational crime, drug trafficking, terrorism, nuclear proliferation and climate change, FEALAC needs to improve its effectiveness and efficiency as a bi-regional organization. Besides that, FEALAC should continue to intensify its efforts to improve the connectivity between the two regions, especially by increasing people-to-people contact and enhance awareness among the people in both regions.
FEALAC should be able to formulate a clear and strategic long-term road map and prepare a time table for intra-regional cooperation. The road map will be strategic guidelines for specific cooperation and implementation steps for FEALAC development.
IV. Direction of Future Cooperation
- FEALAC Cyber Secretariat should be reinforced to establish closer coordination among all member countries for the sake of FEALAC visibility.
- Technical cooperation for capacity building to adapt to the new challenges of green economy.
- FEALAC needs to be stepped up to become bi-regional project related to capacity building to adapt to new challenges such as environment, energy and poverty.
- Developing better infrastructure to enable connectivity and collaboration among member countries.
- Encouraging the support of international and regional financial institutions such as Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Asian Development Bank (ADB) and other relevant institutions, both private and public, to engage in FEALAC activities and programs.
- FEALAC member countries should focus on improving less explored areas in terms of tourism, among other things through eco-tourism.
- Encouraging the projects to increase cooperation in the fields of science and technology.
V. FEALAC and Indonesia
Indonesia recognizes the importance of cooperation in the framework of FEALAC to improve bilateral relations with member countries between the two regions. Since the establishment of FEALAC in 1999, Latin American countries have become important trading partners for Indonesia. Total trade between Indonesia and Latin American countries has shown positive growth every year. According to the Ministry of Trade, Indonesia's total trade with FEALAC member countries in Latin America in 2012 is US $ 8.3 billion and Indonesia's total trade with FEALAC member countries in East Asia is US $ 237 billion. Besides East Asia, Latin America is a promising market for Indonesia because the region's total import reaches more than US $ 466 billion every year.
East Asia and Latin America are rapidly developing regions both in terms of world economy and dynamics; and the regions are less affected by the crisis that occurred recently. The Governments of Latin America and East Asia as well as global companies and business partners from both regions must always work together to ensure and facilitate faster and larger exchange of goods, investment and services between the two regions. In this case, Indonesia can play a greater role through FEALAC Framework by promoting national and bi-regional projects that have positive impacts on national interest.
Furthermore, Indonesia sees FEALAC will not only deepen mutual understanding of economic capacity and capability of one another but it will also enable the people in the two regions to gain greater benefits if the efforts to increase FEALAC cooperation are implemented optimally.
For further information and the role of Indonesia in FEALAC click http://www.fealac2013.kemlu.go.id