Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, national and international guests!
Today, it is my great pleasure to participate in the 4th Asia Economic Forum 2008, which is co-organized by the University of Cambodia and the International Fund for Art and Culture of Tokyo, Japan.
On behalf of Royal Government of Cambodia, I would like to express my compliments once again to the University of Cambodia for making effort to seek support and cooperation for organizing this important Asia Economic Forum.
Taking this opportunity, I would like to convey my deep appreciation to Dr. HARUHISA HANDA, the Head of International Fund for Art and Culture of Tokyo, Japan and the Chancellor of the University of Cambodia for providing constant material and spiritual supports for realizing this Asia Economic Forum.
I would like to thank, Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, national and international speakers and guests, from other countries in region and the world for spending your valuable time to participate in this 4th Asia Economic Forum 2008, to share experiences and exchange ideas, which is taking place right now in Cambodia. Your presence is very valuable to the building of economic foundation and development in Asia with world economy and financial system being under disturbance from financial crisis.
I hope that, through this forum, we will be able to find new strategies to address various challenges, which are threatening the economies and development in region and the world, and also to gain some new lessons, experiences and insights for promoting the progress and development of world economy.
Financial crisis, which is now occurring in the United States of America and other developed countries, is a demonstration of unpredictable world economic downturn like what we had experienced during the Great Depression in 1930s. Financial crisis has triggered many challenges which can affect the economies of countries in Asia and ASEAN as a whole.
As witnessed, the collapse of 2 giantic financial corporations, such as Lehmann Brother and Merril Lynch in the United States of America, casted huge impact on the financial system in US, Europe Asia and the world.
Indeed, this financial crisis has created negative effect on millions of people, particularly those in Asia, and mounted into obstacles against development and poverty reduction that we can hardly achieved so far. High inflation rate hit the poor hard, and at the same time we are also struggling with the issue of increasing number of the people living under the poverty line, in turn this phenomenon might stunt the social development.
On the other hand, financial crisis will not be quickly resolved, even though short-term solution to some extent can maintain stability, however it is required that we must take long-term measures to manage the financial resource cautiously in order to avoid future crisis. Unprecedented chronic financial crisis that we are undergoing now is threatening the world economy with slower growth. Apparently, the change in world and regional economy has brought about increase in demand for consumption of goods and foods along with high surge in oil price recently have sparked inflation and seriously damaged the world economy.
On the one hand, climate change, drought, flood, typhoon, earthquake which have occurred so far are the adverse natural phenomena, which badly affect the stability, economy, progress and development in the region and the world. On the other hand, poverty and the development gap in the region and the world, terrorism, cross-border crime, energy security, epidemics are still the challenges that we need to come together and seek for solutions through discussion in this forum.
I realize that our Asia Economic Forum within these two days is one of the most crucial forums, which reflects not only the experience and vision for managing the challenges of globalization for socio-economic development reason but it also highlight the enhancement of peace and political stability and harmonization for other Asian countries. In this sense, I would like to ask for the permission from the forum to share and contribute a number of perceptions as follows:
1. The Opportunities and Threats of Globalization
Globalization is the un-depleted potential for development. Without globalization there will be no progress, no modernization nor prosperity. So far, globalization has made our region grow very intensively either in the field of science, technology and telecommunication and human resource development.
Globalization is the modern era of civilization, materiality and spirit. Along with that, Globalization has also provided us with various opportunities and challenges that we are now facing. For instance, the current world financial crisis is one example of the challenges of globalization.
It should be noted that the world financial crisis erupted in around August 2007, in a form of housing crisis which happened very suddenly and caused the imbalances in financial markets around the world. This financial crisis resulted from the fast-growing housing market in the United States of America amounting up to 1000 million dollars. Also, this crisis did not only have the negative effect on the US economy alone but it also affect the economic development of other countries in Europe and also spreading all over Asia.
In this context, the solution to the challenges of globalization is to make the best use of globalization’s potential in order to improve the living standard of each individual, especially to enhance the welfare of the poor people. This challenge must also includes the prevention of various risks hidden in the process of globalization such as the world financial crisis that we are now facing.
2. The Building of ASEAN Community
The building of peace, political stability, security and social order is the pre-condition to achieve the sustainable economic development. The ASEAN governments have been trying to lead their respective countries in order to achieve the progress and sustainable development through the building of peace, political stability and cooperation. The experience of instable security has clearly shown the intimidation to the process of economic growth. In this sense, the sustainable development will not be achieved if we cannot response to the issue of security and political stability with efficiency and effectiveness. For instance, if we have the security and political stability we all will be able to live with harmonization and ensure a well-established society.
I strongly believe that our discussion today will create and improve a favorable climate for regional and world peace. After the ASEAN charter came into being, the East Asia has been trying to create a common market and a separate market in the region through the continuing improvement and strengthening of partnership in the context of regional economic cooperation, the reduction of the development gap among ASEAN member countries and between ASEAN and Asia.
I realize that the protection of the environment and the achievement of the sustainable economic development, food security and energy, the fight against the epidemic diseases are still the crucial issues which need to be paid attention and jointly solved by all the ASEAN countries through the cooperation for joint development for now and in the future.
In fact, the achievement of the above targets will not just contribute to the building of one ASEAN community with sustainable development, where the people can live in harmony and in good condition, but through it we can also build a prosperous and strong Asia-Pacific Region in the future.
3. Future Visions
One of the big threats which has always threatened the security in the 21st century is terrorism which is complicatedly spreading all over the world. Along with that, the fast changing of global climate has put Asia and the rest of the world in a great threat of natural disasters. These threats require us to put forward full-fledge solutions. A country in the region alone cannot solve the problems on its own, but all countries must join hands to accomplish this task. It is necessary to establish a regional mechanism to respond timely and provide cooperation in the management of natural disaster. Indeed, climate change, terrorism, cross-border crime, environmental degradation, energy security, disease, poverty, and social inequality leads to instability and pose great threats to the regional peace and development. These challenges cannot be solved without having dialogues and discussions to create a joint strategy, and the effort to strengthen the partnership and cooperation, as well as the establishment of an effective institution to prevent these threats.
Along with this, acknowledging the risks, consequences, experience, and impacts of the global financial crisis that originate from the lack of financial architecture, contagion monitoring measures for the regional and global financial market, we must seek urgent preventative measures by monitoring the effectiveness of the utilization of financial resources freely and with quality.
We expect that by 2020, Asia will contribute 45% to the world’s total GDP. Along with this, the magnitude of Asian intraregional trade will covers one third of the world’s trade. These reflect Asia’s future prosperity. Moreover, economic growth in China, India as well as in ASEAN is an important component for economic development in the Asia-Pacific region. To accomplish this task, all Asian countries must ensure that the development of human resources, agriculture and trade sectors will result in the region’s competitiveness, a prerequisite for a sustainable high economic growth.
I believe that ASEAN’s enormous achievement has raised its profile in the region and the world. Along with this, the creation of the ASEAN full of harmonization, trust, peace, political stability and development amongst the 10 members is our joint duties and must be fulfilled in the future.
In this spirit, more active involvement from ASEAN member countries as well as all Asian countries through the strengthening of cooperation and partnership based on mutual interest is a fundamental long-term strategy. It is necessary to share all successes and good experiences as well as all the challenges in the region. It is necessary to share happiness and pain, share benefits, and understand each other with unity, fraternity, sincerity and determination to achieve common objectives in order to realize sustainability, development and happiness in Asia and the world.
Once again, on behalf the Royal Government of Cambodia, I would like to warmly welcome the presence of Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen who provided mental contribution and shared valuable experiences in the 4th Asia Economic Forum 2008 in Cambodia. I hope that this forum will provide necessary knowledge to enhance peace, political stability, and social order as well as economic development in the region and the world.
I would like to wish Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen who are present in this forum good health and happiness; may I now declare the opening the 4th Asia Economic Forum 2008.