- Excellency Nguyen Xuan Phuc, Chairman of the Summit;
- Excellency Thoungloun Sisoulith, Prime Minister of Lao People’s Democratic Republic,
- Excellency U Htin Kyaw, President of Republic of the Union of Myanmar,
- Excellency Somkid Jatusripitak, Deputy Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand,
- Excellency Le Luong Minh, Secretary General of ASEAN,
- Excellency Shamshad Akhtar, Under-Secretary General of United Nations and Executive Secretary of ESCAP;
- Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen!
At the outset, I would like to extend my sincere compliment and high appreciation to Vietnam for the excellent arrangements of this 7th ACMECS Summit. As our shared destiny tied up by the water streams of Mekong, Ayeyawady and Chao Praya Rivers, the five countries are firmly committed to strengthening economic cooperation under sub-regional framework, which is highly potential and dynamic. Thus we gather here today in this summit to review the progress made in the past years and set future directions for our journey toward building prosperity for all.
Taking this opportunity, I would like to highly appreciate the efforts made by our ACMECS ministers, senior officials and working groups for their many achievements in implementing the ACMECS Action Plan 2016-2018, particularly in the eight cooperation areas, namely, trade and investment facilitation, agricultural cooperation, industrial and energy cooperation, transport connectivity, tourism cooperation, human resource development, and public health and environmental cooperation. Satisfied by these results, Cambodia wishes to call upon all stakeholders to speed up further implementation of this action plan in order to promote economic growth and sustainable development as well as to enhance economic competitiveness of our region.
Looking ahead, all ACMECS countries are undergoing a noticeable socio-economic structural transformation, but this turning-point is taking place while the global economy is going through a secular stagnation in the millennia which are caused by subsequent economic crises, migration crisis, and geo-political conflicts as well as growing impact of global climate change. Nevertheless, Asia is expected to remain an engine of global growth while rapid development in technology is also opening up new opportunities for development and coming along with new challenges as side-effects of this process. This highlights an emerging paradigm shift and new dynamism of changing economic foundations supporting future economic growth. These developments require every one of us to take a long-term and cautious approach toward development, and we must act together, like moving our five fingers simultaneously, in order to either seize new opportunities or drop out threats that might impact common interests of our region.
- Excellencies, Ladies, and Gentlemen!
In the aforementioned contexts, I would like to propose few points for consideration by this meeting, with the aim to enhance and sharpen our ACMEC cooperation:
First – Based on forecast, in 2030, the population of the five countries would be more than 260 million people of which 65% are active labor force. This would provide a good opportunity for enhancing economic and social development in both frameworks of the five-countries and ASEAN. So far, the flow of labor has provided mutual benefits to all of us and it has played an important role in driving regional economic growth. Thus, I am of the view that we all must review and develop a good cooperation mechanism to manage the flow of labor with particular focus on ensuring the respect for labor’s rights, combating against human-trafficking, and provision of insurance services and other financial services.
Second – For agriculture sector, the decline in prices of agricultural produces poses a major challenge for the short to medium terms, requiring greater attention. Previously, cross-border trade cooperation activities have greatly helped addressing this issue. Thus, I believe that we should exert further efforts to facilitating smooth and effective trade. Moreover, I think that our cooperation in rice production and trade would not only strengthen our position in the global market, but would also significantly contribute to improving the standards of livings of our farmers. Hence, we should further promote the initiative to establish an association of rice exporting countries.
Third – Cambodia believes that future growth will be increasingly dependent on progress in industrial sector. In this sense, we are really in urgent need to develop a regional production network, which is highly competitive, effective and efficient in distributing appropriate benefits to participating countries in the supply chains, especially ensuring the linkage with small and medium enterprises of those countries. The mutual supports through this regional production network is very crucial for advanced industrial countries to develop technology whereas those late comer countries with underdeveloped industries can absorb the technology and upgrade their technological level. According to the Flying Geese paradigm, among the Mekong countries, there are two leading countries and three follower countries that would form a dynamic regional value chain. Thus, strengthening cooperation under this Mekong sub-regional framework is certainly important toward achieving a common goal of industrializing our economies. Under this framework, our region should also jointly consider specialization at both regional and national levels, in order to seize global opportunities. At the regional level, we should consider what we can work together to enhance our international competitiveness. At the national level, we also should pay attention to what we can be best specialized in, in order to effectively take part in the regional value chains.
Fourth – Global climate change, especially the increase in global warming, is becoming one of the key topics impacting the livelihood of people who are making a living on these big three rivers. Though these rivers do not flow from the same source yet they are related geographically, making us to think together, to act cooperatively, and to coordinate our actions and share responsibility. Thus, maintaining sustainable regional ecosystems would become our obligation both in the medium and long term.
- Excellencies, Ladies, and Gentlemen!
As for the future objectives of ACMECS, I am of the view that we have to explore means to effectively solve a number of key challenges in: (1)- transport, energy and digital connectivity, (2)- institutional and regulatory coordination, (3)- jointly mapping and developing sub-regional value chains of goods and services and (4)- promoting mutual trust including strengthening and expanding cooperation among business people and between people and people.
In this sense, we should strive to mobilize resources and double our efforts to implement the projects under our cooperation framework, especially exerting our utmost efforts to implement the ACMECS Action Plan 2016-2018. Therefore, we should task our ministers and senior officials to find solutions to addressing those challenges and identify various means to promote the effectiveness of ACMECS cooperation, including addressing financing issue.
Taking this valuable opportunity, I am of the view that our summit should encourage all development partners in ACMECS to increase their financial and technical supports in order to promote successful implementation of ACMECS projects according to our plan. Also, I would like to propose to ASEAN Secretary-General to help mobilize resources for implementation so that we can achieve the vision of ACMECS, which will greatly contribute to our efforts in reducing regional development gaps and in building our ASEAN community.
On the basis of our strong determination toward ACMECS cooperation, I am convinced that we will make further progress in transforming this regional dynamics into a powerful force promoting prosperity and well-being of our people in the region.