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The world’s fastest-growing economies are to be found between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific. The region accounts for a third of trade outside Europe. More than 60% of the world’s population live in the Indo-Pacific region and more than 60% of global GDP is generated there. However, the region is not free of tensions.
Three years ago, the German Government presented its policy guidelines for the Indo-Pacific, a road map for Germany’s engagement in this key region in international politics. Today, the third progress report was published, in which the full scope of engagement of the last year is outlined. The importance of this region is also underscored by the many high-level political visits to the region: the Federal President, the Federal Chancellor and the Foreign Minister have all travelled to the region several times since taking up office. And only recently, Germany opened its first embassy in the small Pacific island states: in Fiji.
Focus on climate action cooperation
More than half of global CO2 emissions originate in the Indo-Pacific and 20 of the world’s 33 megacities are located here. Last year, Germany therefore substantially expanded its cooperation with the region on climate issues: Just Energy Transition Partnerships (JETPs) were concluded with Indonesia and Viet Nam within the G7 framework with the aim of supporting these countries on their own path towards phasing out coal and transitioning to renewable energies. Australia, Indonesia, South Korea and Singapore have just joined the Climate Club initiated by the German Government, in which countries with ambitious climate targets want to closely coordinate and move forward. In the partnership with the regional organisation ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), too, climate action is now a new key priority.
Threat of rising sea levels
Nobody is more aware of the existential threat posed by climate change than the Pacific island states. In August 2023, Germany opened an embassy in Suva, the capital of the South Pacific island state Fiji. This is not just any embassy because it symbolises Germany’s long-term commitment to cooperating with the Pacific island states, especially on the fight against climate change.
To this end, the German Government has joined key international initiatives such as the newly founded Partners in the Blue Pacific initiative. Its purpose is to coordinate efforts in the Pacific island states. The other members are Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States. Through the Rising Nations Initiative, Germany is helping to preserve the land and culture of the Pacific island states in the face of the existential threat they face from rising sea levels.
Strengthening peace, security and stability
As a trading nation with strong international links, Germany has a great interest in free shipping routes and in the preservation of peace and stability in the region. That is why we are now also more engaged in terms of security policy. Since 2023, the Indo-Pacific has been a new partner region in the Enable & Enhance initiative of the German Federal Government, the aim of which is to help our partners operate their own crisis prevention and management, for instance by providing certain advisory services or suitable equipment. This year, Germany also took part in multilateral military exercises in Australia with Luftwaffe transport aircraft and Eurofighters. International law is the foundation of the international order. We are working together with our partners to ensure that differences are settled peacefully and on the basis of international law – for example, the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
European flagship projects in the region
Further diversifying our economic relations and making attractive offers to global partners are key elements of Germany’s Indo-Pacific policy. The European Union’s efforts to conclude new, sustainable free trade agreements with partners in the region as well as the EU connectivity strategy Global Gateway, which envisages investment in high-quality infrastructure, are particularly important here. Many investment projects are being planned in the region, for example the development of the ASEAN Highway No. 13, which is to better connect people in Laos, Viet Nam and Thailand in future.