Your Excellencies Ministers
Your Excellency Ong Keng Yong, Secretary General of ASEAN,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is indeed a great honor and pleasure for me to welcome you all to this August gathering of the 23rd ASEAN Ministers on Energy Meeting and the ASEAN Energy Business Forum in our splendid land of Siem Reap–Angkor. Allow me, on behalf of the Royal Government and People of Cambodia, to extend our warmest welcome to you all, the distinguished delegates and guests to Siem Reap. I would like also to welcome the continuing joint efforts in strengthening closer cooperation between ASEAN and China, Japan and Korea, as well as the participation of private sector in this 2nd AMEM+3 meeting.
The Royal Government and the People of Cambodia are delighted and proud to host the 23rd ASEAN Ministers on Energy Meeting, the ASEAN Energy Business Forum and the 2nd AMEM+3 Meeting. All these meetings take place at the moment when we all are focusing on regional energy security, both in terms of supply and price and in response to rising demands. Indeed, the region’s over-reliance on external sources of energy supply implies that we are facing the challenge of energy security. Thus, we all in Asia must jointly develop and explore new sources and supplies of energy within the region, and embark on efficient use of energy. This has become the most critical factor for the sustainable development in ASEAN and Asia at large in the 21st century.
In the past several years, Cambodia has had the honor to host and organize many international meetings and conferences. Today is another important event for the Kingdom of Cambodia to host this meeting, especially in Siem Reap, the land of Angkor – an ancient historical capital and one of the world wonders. This indeed reflects the utmost efforts and commitments of Cambodia to integrate itself into the international and, in particular, the regional community. This represents an important part of the Royal Government’s strategy to promote the development of our country and reduce the poverty among our population.
Taking this opportunity, I would like to recall that ASEAN leaders attached great importance to Energy Cooperation. At the 10th ASEAN Summit in Vientiane last year, we endorsed the Vientiane Action Programme (VAP) 2004-2010’s Energy Policy Agenda to promote energy security through the adoption of a comprehensive institutional arrangement for enhanced security and stability of energy supply in ASEAN. Today, I am pleased to take note of good progress on the new ASEAN Petroleum Security Agreement (APSA) carried out by the ASEAN Council on Petroleum. Moreover, I congratulate the five power networks which form the ASEAN Power Grid. The interconnected networks of ASEAN Power grid and trans-ASEAN Gas Pipeline offer significant benefits both in term of energy security, flexibility and quality of energy supply and greater competition. Yet, given the urgent need to diversify energy supply in light of the high and volatile oil prices, I would like to encourage all of us to achieve our VAP goals as soon as possible and even go beyond the targets, so that we can realize the operation of Power Grid in the region by 2010.
Moreover, to address our shared concern about impact of high energy prices on our economies, I would like to urge ASEAN and its Plus Three partners (China, Japan and Korea) to focus on the followings:
First, taking necessary measures to respond to the high oil price.
Second, while facing the growing energy demands and rising dependence on oil imports, ASEAN and the Plus Three countries have to look into effective tools for energy security such as the possibility of developing oil stockpiling.
Third, forging stronger partnership in new energy development in order to diversify energy sources and contribute to rural development.
Fourth, while securing adequate supply of energy, we should also take into account the environmental issue as we advocate the Kyoto Protocol. For your information, Cambodia signed Instrument of Accession to the Kyoto Protocol July 2002 and ratified UNCCC on the 18th December 1995. For this purpose, all power projects must be subject to Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) procedures for protection against pollution of air, soil and water, protection against noises, vibration and radiation, protection of flora and fauna.
I am also very pleased to inform you that in contributing to the “Clean Development”, the Royal Government of Cambodia has formulated a national energy sector policy in October 1994 to provide an adequate supply of energy throughout Cambodia at reasonable and affordable price, ensuring a reliable and secure electricity supply. This would facilitate the investments in and development of Cambodia; encourage environmentally and socially acceptable exploration and development of energy resources, and efficient use of energy, and minimizing detrimental environmental affects caused by energy supply and use.
Indeed, to assure the responsibility, transparency, justice and mutual benefits as well as to guarantee private investments in electricity, the Royal Government of Cambodia has established a well-specified Law on Electricity for regulating and protecting businesses in this sector in an appropriate and transparent manner among suppliers and consumers. As established by law, the Cambodia Electricity Authority is a regulator and arbitrary in all these businesses. Moreover, the Royal Government imposed additional rules and regulations according to the law in order to ensure good governance in electricity sector for the sake of quality, transparency and efficiency. Such activities represents one big step of the Royal government in reforming this electricity sector in order to establish a favorable investment climate which gains trust and pile up investments in an appropriate, just and efficient way that would benefit our whole society.
In this spirit, the Royal Government attaches great attention to the sector and considers it as a key sector that could be compared to a blood vessel that not only helps promoting the development of other sectors, but also contribute to efficiency improvement and enhancement of living standard. Moreover, the Royal Government recognizes the development of the sector requires huge investments that the public funding including the government funds, aids including grants and loans are not enough. Thus, it is necessary to encourage private sector participation. In this framework, private sector is indeed an engine of economic growth. Therefore, the Royal Government’s policies in the electricity sector is not only open and encouraging private sector investments, but also place more efforts in establishing appropriate, just, mutually beneficial environment and building trust for private investments in the sector.
ASEAN has moved to a more favorable stage of economic integration and regional cooperation in all sectors. Indeed, the ten countries has committed to cooperation for mutual benefits and opportunities for the prosperity and equity. The Royal Government of Cambodia will continue to deepen cooperation and integrate itself into regional community, focusing on bridging development gaps in ASEAN through mobilizing member countries of ASEAN and our partner countries to participate in the implementation of the Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI) including the energy cooperation in order to reduce dependency on oil, mitigate rising oil prices, diversify the energy supply by alternative and new forms of energy such as bio-fuels, hydropower and enhance energy security, including oil stockpiling for sustainable economic development towards achieving Cambodia’s MDGs.
I hope that during your stay in Siem Reap-Angkor, you will take this rare opportunity to visit some places, especially the Angkor Complex – the greatest achievement of human kind and our historical treasure. As you all are aware, during the Angkor era, Cambodia reached the pick of its prosperity, including in architecture, urbanization, agriculture and related infrastructure. During those times, in this place there were harmony between human, nature and those giant temples. It is a magnificent architecture of the temples. If you would see, you would definitely appreciate and remember it.
In closing, on behalf of People and the Royal Government of Cambodia, I would like to reiterate our firm commitment to supporting and enhancing regional and international cooperation, especially the cooperation among ASEAN countries in energy sector. Once again, I wish you all fruitful discussion and great success in the meeting, and a wonderful stay in Siem Reap. Finally, I have the honor to declare the opening of the 23rd ASEAN Ministers Meeting and the ASEAN Energy Business Forum 2005.