Online ISSN 2286-0266
Print ISSN 1223-0685
© 2022 Œconomica by ASE & SOREC
 
Adrian-Ioan DAMOC
Academia de Studii Economice din Bucureşti
It is well-known that, since its emergence, the recent coronavirus pandemic has caused significant upheavals and shifts in the current political, social and economic landscape in Europe, which have been further exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. For the European Union (EU), these developments have led to renewed interest in ‘strategic autonomy’, a concept involving the redefinition of the EU’s position to preserve its ability to determine its foreign policy unpressured by other powers. Given the current geopolitical and geoeconomic context, a region of high interest for the EU would be Southeast Asia, particularly the 10 member states of the ASEAN economic union. To optimise its approach to the region, it is important for the EU to understand the differences among ASEAN member states and identify the key partners to engage with. To this end, the present paper seeks to use artificial intelligence to identify the underlying patterns in the differences and similarities between ASEAN member states. More specifically, this is accomplished by using k-means clustering, an unsupervised machine learning algorithm that will attempt to group the 10 ASEAN states according to similarities and differences in terms of the size of their economies, the friendliness of their business environments and effectiveness of their governments. The results suggest the existence of three, reasonably well-defined, hierarchically arranged clusters, reflecting differences in each member state’s geoeconomic power as well as the necessity for the EU to customize its policy towards ASEAN by taking into account this power structure.

ŒCONOMICA no. 1-2/2022
Keywords: ASEAN, European Union, geopolitics, Covid-19, artificial intelligence, machine learning, diplomacy
JEL: C38, F50, F59
Artificial Intelligence in Economic Diplomacy: Using Unsupervised Machine Learning to Identify Key Geostrategic Partners in ASEAN for the European Union