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The Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS), in partnership with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA)-Office of ASEAN Affairs, University of the Philippines (UP)-Asian Center, Foreign Service Institute, and selected Philippine experts on regional integration, hosted the 33rd Country Coordinators Meeting of the Network of East Asian Think-Tanks (NEAT) on April 20, 2021.
The meeting sought to strengthen the research collaboration among the ASEAN Plus Three (APT) think tanks to produce studies that will help the region recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The results of the working group will be presented to the public in September 2021 and will be submitted to the APT track-one mechanism.
In her welcome remarks, PIDS President Celia Reyes expressed her gratitude to the 12 NEAT country coordinators and their respective delegates for joining the virtual event. Among those present were high-ranking representatives from Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, People’s Republic of China, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Viet Nam, and the Philippines.
This was the second time PIDS hosted and chaired the NEAT meeting. The first one was in 2010.
As host, NEAT Philippines issued a Call for Working Group Proposals to tackle pressing issues in the region.
“I am glad to inform you that five countries have responded positively to our call and have expressed interest to spearhead a working group on various topics. They are NEAT China (climate change), NEAT Korea (human security in the post-COVID-19 era), NEAT Indonesia (country responses on the COVID-19 pandemic), NEAT Japan (towards improving supply chain connectivity in East Asia), and NEAT Philippines (accelerating MSMEs’ digital adoption to thrive in the new normal)” Reyes said.
Meanwhile, Ambassador Junever Mahilum West of the DFA-Office of ASEAN Affairs highlighted the importance of greater collaboration among member-countries amid the COVID-19 health crisis.
“The COVID-19 pandemic, the response [that] we are making, and the path to recovery that we are charting require that all stakeholders must work together to overcome this challenge. All these underline the need for ASEAN and the APT framework to work closely with partners across tracks, pillars, and sectors to spur economic recovery and ensure our resilience to similar disruptive events in the future,” she said.
The DFA official also emphasized that NEAT will play a key role in providing expertise, analysis, and recommendations in resolving major crises such as the pandemic, as well as in harnessing “networks for synergies and complementarities”.
“We see an important role for NEAT that could help usher in a strong rebound. What comes to mind is NEAT’s grassroots perspective and possible inputs in assessing the impact of the above response and recovery efforts on individual citizens, households, and communities,” Mahilum-West noted.   
In closing, Dean Joefe Santarita of the UP Asian Center expressed his hope that NEAT projects will produce considerable outputs that will benefit scholars and policymakers at the national and regional levels.
“[I hope] that these researches will be translated into policy actions that will prepare our bureaucrats and officials when another public health crisis comes into the picture. By doing so, think tanks such as NEAT are performing their mandates as information transfer mechanisms and agents of change by aggregating both in the domestic and international policy spheres and creating new knowledge through collaboration with diverse public and private actors,” he said.  
NEAT is a network of government and research institutions in the 10 ASEAN countries plus Japan, South Korea, and China. It is a Track Two process for East Asian cooperation, the main purpose of which is to support, promote, and develop the ideas of East Asian cooperation and regionalism, and, in particular, to provide intellectual support for East Asian cooperation through studies of key and strategic issues concerning future developments of East Asian cooperation. ###


To see the original post from the PIDS Website, please click HERE.

Network of East Asian Think-Tanks

The Network of East Asian Think-tanks

Officially recognized at the “10+3" summit meeting, Network of East Asian Think-tanks (NEAT) is a mechanism for research and academic exchange, and a platform for the second-track diplomacy in the regional cooperation among “10+3" countries in East Asia. It aims at integrating the research resources in East Asia, promoting the academic exchanges and providing intellectual support for East Asian cooperation. To be more specific, by establishing a network among East Asian think-tanks, governments and enterprises and promoting the interaction of these three circles, it intends to study the key issues related to East Asian cooperation, work out strategic ideas and concrete policy suggestions for the regional integration and submit research reports to the “10+3" summit meeting.
In 2002, East Asian Studies Group (EASG), the second-track in the mechanism of East Asian cooperation, suggested 17 short-term measures to be taken for closer cooperation among East Asian nations, among which was establishing “Network of East Asian Think-tanks" (NEAT) within the framework of “10+3" regional cooperation. The suggestion was adopted at the informal meeting of “10+3"leaders held in Phnom PenhCambodia in September 2002.
The activities of NEAT fall into the following categories: 1) Hold annual conferences of NEAT members to promote exchanges among East Asian think tanks and submit an annual work report to the informal meeting of “10+3" leaders on the basis of the research of the key issues in East Asian integration process; 2) Set up a website of NEAT, bridging the governments with the academic circles, promoting the academic exchanges among scholars about East Asia, and educating the masses in the region; 3) Hold irregular international seminars on East Asian cooperation so as to facilitate the theoretic research on the integration and community building of East Asia and help to shape the theoretic framework, strategies and specific policies conducive to the regional cooperation in East Asia. 4) Cooperate in the research of the key issues in regional cooperation and figure out the solutions.
The founding as well as the first annual conference of NEAT was held in Beijing from September 29 to 30, 2003. There were delegates from the think tanks of all the member states at the conference. The three topics discussed were “Towards East Asian Cooperation", Important Steps Leading to East Asian Cooperation" and “Key Areas in East Asia Cooperation". The conference report was not only published, but also distributed at the “10+3" leaders meeting in 2003.