Your Excellency President Lee Myung-bak,
Your Excellency Chairman,
Your Majesty the Sultan,
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen!
The financial crisis in the western countries poses negative effect and complication to our effort in reducing poverty and improving economic growth. Last year, ASEAN and the Republic of Korea (ROK) faced a difficult time due to the rising oil and food prices. Despite the recent decline of oil and food prices, the financial crisis, stemming from western countries, is becoming a major threat for our nations.
In this context, a closer cooperation is our top priority. Therefore, ASEAN’s relationship with the Plus Three countries, especially with South Korea has increasingly become critical not only to promote the process of ASEAN integration, but also for a joint response to the global financial and economic crisis.
Taking this opportunity, I would like to express my high appreciation for the outcome of the last ASEM Summit in Beijing, where the ASEAN+3 Countries agreed that the impact of the financial crisis can be mitigated by speeding and strengthening the implementation of Chiang Mai Initiative (CMI) and now we have decided to increase the ASEAN+3 SWAPs size from USD80 billion to USD120 billion, as agreed recently by ASEAN+3 Finance Ministers’ Meeting in Bali, Indonesia. In this regard, I would express full support to the decision made by the ASEAN+3 Finance Ministers and would like to speed up the implementation of the CMI swap arrangements as planned because this self-help mechanism would well protect our region in the face of the current global financial crisis and future possible financial shock.
At the same time, we recognize that the demand for energy will increase together with the economic growth in the ASEAN+3 Countries. Therefore, with the uncertainty of energy market as we witnessed in the last decade, the bio-energy is truly important for development. However, with the recent rising food price and its impact on the people, we have noted that the bio-energy development has not produced a good result, because the land for food production should not be used much for bio-energy. It requires us to strike an appropriate balance in solving this problem. In this connection, I would like to welcome and highly appreciate the ASEAN+3 Declaration on Food Security and Bio-Energy Cooperation expected to be signed in the coming Summit in Thailand.
As an agricultural country, Cambodia welcomes investment in infrastructure, technological transfer and technical assistance in order to improve agricultural productivity. To avoid future food shortage in the future, technology will play crucial role as it leads to the improvement of agriculture productivity. Cambodia is self-sufficient in rice with some remaining for export and contains extensive land surface, which has not been used at the maximum potential yet. Hence, together with the investment to improve agriculture productivity, Cambodia may become another crucial rice barn for the region and the world.
However, the effect resulted from the climate change such as global warming, flood, drought in some parts of the world and unusual ice meltdown in the Poles and so forth still remains a major threat to us all. In this connection, we should enhance our responsibility by accelerating the implementation of all existing mechanisms to effectively and timely tackle the climate change. Climate change is also considered as root cause for food shortages due to flood and drought in some major food producing countries.
To tackle the above issue, we need to strike an appropriate balance between socio-economic development and environmental protection. We have to sufficiently finance the R&D to improve the efficiency of energy usage and development of clean energy. I would like to encourage the transfer of technologies in the area of energy efficiency and development of clean energy from developed to developing countries. In this context, I strongly urge all signatory countries of the Singapore Declaration on Climate Change, Energy and the Environment to increase cooperation and transform this declaration into actual work plan and concrete implementation.
Taking this opportunity, I would like to express my utmost support on the Statement on EAS Disaster Management, which is soon to be adopted during the upcoming Summit in Thailand.
In the meantime, the world and our whole region are facing another eruption of a dangerous illness, swine flu A(H1N1). It was originated in Mexico, and has caused sharp concerns to the world as the flu has spread across many countries including the Republic of Korea. This will put an extra pressure to further slow down regional economic growth, in the circumstance that the world has been receiving the negative effect from the global financial crisis and the world economic recession. Based on the past experiences and success in fighting against SAR decease, the combat against this swine flu requires a close regional cooperation among countries in the region. In this context, I would like to highly appreciate the collective regional measures which were adopted by the ASEAN + 3 Health Ministers’ Special Meeting in Bangkok on 8 May 2009.
Finally, I would like to thank and highly appreciate the Republic of Korea for her strong commitment to further strengthen economic, security and political cooperation with ASEAN in order to maintain the regional peace, stability and prosperity.