As an informal process of dialogue and cooperation, based on equal partnership and enhancing mutual understanding, ASEM can best work to facilitate and stimulate progress in other fora, and should not seek to duplicate what is being done within bilateral and other multilateral relationships with Asia.
Key characteristics of the ASEM process include:
It provides a open forum for policy makers and officials to discuss any political, economic and socio-cultural issues of common interest. In this way, it complements rather than duplicates the work already being carried out in bilateral and other multilateral fora;
It covers the full spectrum of relations between the two regions and devotes equal weight to political, economic and socio-cultural dimensions;
Emphasis on equal partnership:
It eschews any "aid-based" relationship taken forward under our bilateral relations in favour of a more general process of dialogue and co-operation based on mutual respect and mutual benefit;
Dual focus on high-level and people-to-people:
It provides a platform for meeting of heads of states or governments, ministers and senior officials, and with an increasing focus on fostering contacts between societies in all sectors in the two regions.