Makassar, South Sulawesi (ANTARA) - During a national seminar at Hasanuddin University here on Thursday, Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs, Mahfud MD, outlined five challenges that ASEAN needs to anticipate.

The first challenge is the intense rivalry between the United States (US) and China that has continued to worsen. It began as an economic rivalry before continuing to political and military rivalry.

Both countries are ASEAN's strategic partners. China has been ASEAN's biggest trading partner for decades, he noted during the "Indonesia's Strategic Leadership in ASEAN amid geopolitical rivalry and the threat of transnational crime" seminar.

Meanwhile, the US contributed the highest foreign direct investment (FDI) of US$40 billion in 2022, he said.

ASEAN countries need to strengthen unity and harmony in the face of influences from external powers that are seeking to tear ASEAN apart, he added.

The second challenge is the Russia-Ukraine conflict, which is still on and there is no confirmation on when it will end, he said.

The conflict has had a global economic impact, including in the ASEAN region. Russia's policy to reduce the supply of energy to Europe has caused the price of global raw oil to rise, which has directly contributed to a higher inflation rate.

"Next ASEAN challenges comprise the crisis situation in Myanmar, the threat of transnational crime, and maritime security," Mahfud said.

Indonesia is currently holding the baton of ASEAN leadership and has become its epicenter for this year. Trade competition and border problems between ASEAN member countries has emerged as an issue that will require strategic leadership on the part of Indonesia to navigate, he said.

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Translator: Abdul Kadir, Fadhli Ruhman
Editor: Azis Kurmala
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