The heads of state from the 10 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are currently gathered in Singapore for the 33rd ASEAN summit.
The summit runs from 11-15 November, and will see influential leaders from Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam in attendance. The collective population of these countries make up 642 million, or 8.5% of the world’s total.
Singapore has become something of a locus for important political summits in recent months, following the meeting between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un which took place there in June.
Key topics which are expected to be discussed at the ASEAN summit include China’s activity in the South China Sea, and the establishment of the ASEAN Smart Cities Framework. This is a network of smart cities in the region, with an initial 26 members including Bangkok, Cebu City and Yangon.
The cities with work together to tap into technology and improve public services as well as economic opportunities for residents.
Other issues that could be raised are the resettlement of Rohingya refugees and ways to build trust in the region, so that disputes over trade or territory do not end in blows.
Against the backdrop of US-China trade tensions and rising protectionism globally, a key concern for many leaders is the need to underline their commitment to lowering trade barriers and integrating regional economies closer together.