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The 8th ASEAN Maritime Forum  (AMF) and the 6th ASEAN Expanded Maritime Forum (EAMF)

Manila, Philipines 6-7 Dec 2018

The 8th AMF and  6th  EAMF were conducted as a back to back event in Manila recently. In preparation for the event, the Institute for Maritime Affairs and Law of the Sea in collaboration with the Coast Watch Directorate of the Philipines organised a Track II academic and stakeholder workshop on the 4th of Dec 2018 to identify key maritime issues in ASEAN for the AMF and then to ASEAN’s dialogue partners in the EAMF.

The Track II workshop was divided into three sessions namely ASEAN Cooperation on Maritime Security Issues, ASEAN Cooperation on Maritime Safety Concerns and finally ASEAN Cooperation on Marine Environmental Protection. Capt.Martin from MIMA was invited as resource person to speak on maritime security. He elaborated on the Maritime Single Points of Contact (MSPOC) and expressed the idea for an ASEAN MSPOC (AMSPOC). The fact that most ASEAN member states already have an MSPOC makes it easier to work together. The existing MSPOC can work together as AMSPOC, and develop a regional inter-agency cooperative framework to address transnational maritime syndicated crimes like piracy, fishery crimes and smuggling/trafficking.

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Fig 1 -  The Malaysian Delegation comprising the Maritime Division and ASEAN -Malaysia National Secretariat (Ministry of Foreign Affairs Malaysia), Malaysian Embassy Manila, Malaysian Institute of Defence and Security (MiDAS) and MIMA

On the 5th of Dec 2018, a Track 1.5 workshop was organized to discuss issues that were brought up during the 7th AMF, including the future direction of the AMF itself and the EAMF. The ASEAN Secretariat provided an overview of maritime cross-cutting issues in all the ASEAN pillars. The September 2010 paper on the Establishment of the AMF was circulated together with the 3 August 2012 Concept Paper for the EAMF. These documents provided much information on the direction for the AMF and EAMF. The Workshop took note that according to the paper on the AMF, each ASEAN Member State was to designate national representation at the AMF and that the AMF was to provide recommendations to the ASEAN Senior Official’s Meeting (ASEAN SOM). The paper also outlined that the Committee of Permanent Representatives (CPR) in ASEAN could be designated to assist in securing funding and to carry out the day to day work of the forum.

The AMF could be held prior to the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) Inter-Sessional Meeting on Maritime Security. ASEAN Member States are to appoint representatives to serve as focal points for the AMF and identify resource persons on issues related to the AMF agenda. The ASEAN Secretariat is to assist the AMF Chair and to provide technical support and act as a repository of AMF documents. There were many other useful information during the workshop that provided guidance on the mechanics and future direction of the AMF and EAMF        

On the 6th of Dec 2018, the AMF brought together ASEAN officials to discuss on pertinent issues. Malaysia reported on the recent ARF Workshop on SMPOC which was held in Kuala Lumpur and also the ARF Workshop on Maritime Domain Awareness which was held in Japan. Malaysia raised the idea for the AMSPOC and proposed that this could be taken up in the next ARF Workshop.

During the 8th EAMF session on the 7th of Dec 2018, dialogue partners delved into a number of maritime issues. The meeting took note on the various maritime related events that will take place in 2019 and new project proposals. 

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Fig 2 – ASEAN and Dialogue Partners

As an end of the year event, the meetings managed to capture important maritime issues that matter to ASEAN. Dialogue partners were ready to support in capacity building on various areas. The recent AMF and EAMF provided better mechanism and direction for future maritime foras.

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