The ACD is a continent-wide forum, the first of its kind in Asia. It aims to constitute the missing link by incorporating every Asian country and build an Asian community, consolidate its strengths and fortify its competitiveness.
Since its inception, the ACD has rapidly developed in two dimensions, namely, dialogue and projects. On the dialogue dimension, ACD Ministers have met annually at the ACD Ministerial Meetings in Cha-Am (2002), Chiang Mai (2003), Qingdao (2004), Islamabad (2005) and Doha (2006) to discuss ACD developments, issues of regional cooperation and ways to enhance and solidify Asian unity.
In between, Foreign Ministers also meet on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in September to update each other on the progress of ACD project cooperation, to hold constructive discussions on international issues of concern and to strengthen the 'voice of Asia' in the international arena.
On the projects dimension, currently, many countries have proposed to be prime movers in 19 areas of cooperation, such as energy, agriculture, biotechnology, tourism, poverty alleviation, IT development, e-education and financial cooperation.
At the community level, Thailand hosted the First ACD Think Tanks Symposium in December 2004 and has put together an ACD Think Tank Network composed of academic institutions, development networks and research groups nominated by ACD countries to serve as the academic arm of ACD. The objectives are to conduct in-depth study and support the development of the ACD as well as facilitate prime mover projects.
The Asia Cooperation Dialogue was established to:
Promote interdependence among Asian countries in all areas of cooperation by identifying Asia's common strengths and opportunities which will help reduce poverty and improve the quality of life for Asian people, whilst developing a knowledge-based society within Asia and enhancing community and people empowerment;
Expand the trade and financial market within Asia and increase bargaining power of Asian countries in lieu of competition, and in turn enhance Asia's economic competitiveness in the global market;
Serve as the missing link of Asia by building upon Asia's potentials and strengths through supplementing and complementing existing cooperative frameworks, so as to become a viable partner for other regions;
Ultimately transform the Asian continent into an Asian community, capable of interacting with the rest of the world on a more equal footing and contributing more positively towards mutual peace and prosperity (ACD Background and Update, 2004).
The core values agreed upon at the meeting are an important and unique aspect of the ACD which is meant to serve as a channel for regional cooperation and collaboration, while constituting an informal and non-institutionalized forum for Asian Foreign Ministers to regularly exchange views on issues of mutual interests. The ACD is seen as an incremental and evolving process, maintaining a top-down characteristic whilst emphasizing positive thinking, inclusiveness and comfort level for all participants.