The Honorable Prime Ministers of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Viet Nam
Your Excellencies, Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Viet Nam
Ministers, Ambassadors and Distinguished Guests
Firstly, I would like to thank the Prime Minister of Viet Nam for inviting me to the 4th CLMV Summit held in Ha Noi. I very much regret that I could not be with all Your Excellencies during this very important meeting due to prior commitments. I have met all of you at the ASEM Summit in Beijing a few days ago and was very much inspired by your views and your visions for our region through many discussions and many forums associated with the 7th ASEM Summit.
We must now ensure that at the next ASEAN Summit in Chiang Mai in December, ASEAN will not only celebrate the full ratification of its Charter, but also will welcome the entering into force of the Charter. That will be a historic moment for the region. With the Charter as the roadmap, ASEAN is ready to engage more effectively with the world, which is eagerly waiting for our participation and our contributions in all areas of international cooperation. With our ASEAN integration and regional solidarity, the agenda of the CLMV will be advanced, narrowing the gap among ASEAN Member States will be better managed, and the international community will know in what areas, how and when it can make a contribution to our ASEAN Agenda for regional cooperation. They are all convinced that a successful and prosperous ASEAN will be good for the world, and a stable and secured ASEAN will also contribute much to the stability and security of the world. At least the world will have one less region to worry about.
At the coming 14th ASEAN Summit, the Leaders will adopt the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community Blueprint and the ASEAN Political-Security Community Blueprint which together with the earlier adopted ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint will form the Road Map for ASEAN community building. In addition to these three pillars, the ASEAN Leaders have emphasized that narrowing the development gap and ASEAN integration remain an important task to ensure the benefits of ASEAN integration are fully realised. In this regard, the ASEAN Leaders are also expected to adopt the Second Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI) Work Plan to be implemented in tandem with the other three Community Blueprints. Since the ASEAN Leaders launched the IAI in the year 2000, commendable progress has been made to narrow the development gap through the first IAI Work Plan (2002-2008). The Work Plan accomplished implementation of a total of 134 projects attracting a total investment of US$191 million from ASEAN-6 and about US$20 million by Dialogue Partners, Development Partners and other Partners. This does not include the other IAI related substantive support given to the CLMV, nor other projects implemented in the CLMV region. The 2nd IAI Work Plan has taken a more holistic and broader approach in line with the directive of the Leaders that the IAI Work Plan should be aligned with the three Community Blueprints. Therefore, the 2nd IAI Work Plan comprises actions that are critical and necessary to hasten the integration process and to move forward in a unified manner in the implementation of the three Community Blueprints. In addition, while capacity building and human resource development is key to IAI efforts, the 2nd IAI Work Plan will encourage the development of infrastructure as a means to deepen ASEAN integration and competitiveness.
The importance of closer economic cooperation, in particular, for narrowing the development gap need not be overemphasized. The ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint serves as a master plan for achieving economic integration. ASEAN economic cooperation must be intensified with a view to supporting the establishment of the ASEAN Community by 2015 which is also the target date for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.
Dialogue partners together with the more advanced ASEAN Member States should further strengthen South-South triangular arrangements utilising ASEAN specialised skills and expertise in narrowing the development gap in the region.
For ASEAN to achieve full integration, trade and investment flows must flourish among all the ASEAN Member States in order to achieve economic resilience and equitable development. Improved governance and transparency both in the public as well as private sector is a requisite to establishing a favourable investment climate in ASEAN. Countries must promote dialogue and build constructive stakeholder relationship for ASEAN economic cooperation and improve the investment climate in ASEAN.
The CLMV Plan of Action has identified a number of key activities that fully support the regional objectives at the sub-regional level. For example, there are plans by the ASEAN-6 to organise a series of seminars on investment opportunities in CLMV Countries in 2009. This will be followed by outbound investment missions from the ASEAN-6 to the CLMV Countries to explore investment opportunities and better understanding on investment rules, regulations and procedures. The ASEAN Secretariat is now working with Japan to secure funding of US$ 41,400 to implement this project.
In the area of trade in goods, through the ASEAN Integration System of Preferences (AISP) Scheme which has been implemented since 2002, ASEAN-6 Countries have been providing CLMV Countries with import duty free market access to the products of their export interests with a view to helping CLMV increase their exports, and thus giving them additional stimulus to boost their production and job creation. Up to date, 2,995 products of CLMV Countries have been given the import duty free market access by ASEAN-6 Countries under the AISP Scheme. The ASEAN-6 Countries will continue to consider giving preferences to the products requested by CLMV to secure better market access for their products.
In the area of ICT, ASEAN is intensifying capacity building and training programmes for national Computer Emergency Response Teams (CERTs) and strengthening its capacity, cooperation and the coverage of the region’s cyber-security network. Efforts are currently ongoing to help establish the National Computer Emergency Response Teams (CERTs) in Lao PDR and Cambodia.
We have also commissioned a Study on the Impact of Accelerating the ASEAN Economic Community by 2015 on CLMV. The ASEAN Secretariat is pleased to assist Lao PDR in organising a regional workshop to discuss the results of the study among the relevant stakeholders.
The success of the various plans depends on effective planning, implementation and coordination. We are pleased to note the close relationship and complementary nature of the 2nd IAI Work Plan and the CLMV Plan of Action. We welcome the suggestion that both these mechanisms should be closely aligned and mutually support each other. In fact, many of the activities in the IAI Work Plan and the CLMV Plan of Action contain common measures and therefore better coordination is critical. The ASEAN Secretariat is pleased to be able to support the implementation of many of the actions in the CLMV Plan of Action through better use of the implementation mechanisms of the ASEAN Secretariat and those of the CLMV Countries.
Under the new structure of the ASEAN Secretariat, in accordance with the ASEAN Charter, the IAI Unit is placed under the purview of the ASEAN Economic Community Department to give focus on economic cooperation. In addition to implementing the IAI Work Plan, the Unit would also coordinate other sub-regional frameworks such as the ASEAN Mekong Basin Development Cooperation (AMBDC), the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS), the Mekong River Commission, the CLMV Cooperation, BIMP-EAGA, and IMT-GT. The IAI Unit will also be strengthened to better implement activities at the sub-regional level.
I pledge the service of the ASEAN Secretariat in support of the fulfillment of your aspirations and common vision for the people of Southeast Asia.
In closing, I would like to wish the CLMV Summit a great success and a fruitful outcome. Thank you.