ASEAN Secretariat, 12-13 October 2010

Representatives from the National Statistical System of ASEAN Member States

Ms. Cecile Le Roy, from the EU Delegation in Jakarta

Mr. Jean-Michel Emprou, the EASCAB Programme Lead Expert,

Good morning.

On behalf of the ASEAN Secretariat, I would like to welcome you to the EASCAB National Programme Coordinators Workshop, and express my appreciation to all of you for your participation in this workshop.

Coordination is “easier said than done” both at the national and regional levels. In the field of statistics, we deal a lot with concepts, definitions, classifications, and quality assurance as well as processes and technicalities from data collection, processing, analysis, and dissemination. But as we are aware, coordination is critical and can be a success factor, especially when we are dealing with harmonisation of statistics that involves various data producing agencies. Timeliness, comparability, quality, and availability of statistics at the ASEAN Secretariat also depends on how we can work together; how each party understands the shared objectives; how each party appreciates her/his role; and on how all of these aspects are coordinated.

In a more evidence-based and result-oriented ASEAN integration, statistics plays a very important role in facilitating ASEAN integration and accomplishing the ASEAN Community’ goals. Proper planning, policy-making and decision-making are only possible if supported by relevant, reliable and comparable statistics. In the absence of quality statistics, we cannot properly assess how ASEAN has been doing; how ASEAN integration has benefited its people, its industries and economies; and we cannot measure our economic and socio-economic progress. Thus, coordination in the field of statistics is also equally important.

In this context, the ASEAN Secretariat has developed its statistical capacity starting from scratch in the year 2000. Currently, we have a good collection of macro-economic statistics, including national accounts, international merchandise trade, foreign direct investment, tourism, and social statistics. This is primarily due to coordination among key data producers in the statistical field in ASEAN.

With the recent development towards the establishment of an ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) by 2015, including the Initiative for ASEAN Integration, there is a stronger need to speed up the process of developing a dependable and effective system that can provide regular statistical information in support of economic integration. In this regard, we will soon be establishing a new high-level surveillance office for monitoring regional integration in the ASEAN Secretariat. This new office will be dealing with macroeconomic, trade and investment surveillance in the context of ASEAN economic integration and will be assisted by our statistics section to better align statistics collection analysis and policy support to ASEAN Integration. The office will support the statistics requirements of the ASEAN Community as a whole.

The ASEAN Secretariat welcomes the initiatives to bring together the National Programme Coordinators involved in the EASCAB Programme. In your work, coordination is critical for ensuring effectiveness of the programme because you are dealing with a number of institutions, focal persons and members of task forces or working groups, in addition to your already “heavy” day-to-day responsibilities. Improved coordination will ease significantly your responsibilities and tasks. In this regard, I understand you have a list of issues to be discussed at this workshop, including the important issue of the most suitable arrangement for your own country that can facilitate effective implementation of the programme.

I take this opportunity to thank the EU and the EU-ASEAN Statistical Capacity Building (EASCAB) Programme for its committed and continued support towards achieving the objectives that will contribute to the regular and timely provision of quality statistics. I appreciate your engagement of the right experts to help the task force, the ASEAN Secretariat, and the ASEAN Member States improve key ASEAN statistics.

In closing, let me underscore the need for strong commitment from all parties concerned without which we cannot achieve our shared objectives of the Programme. While recognising the challenges, improving coordination would certainly facilitate your work and responsibilities, and at the same time support evidence- based and result-oriented ASEAN integration.

I would like to now officially declare the EASCAB National Programme Coordinators Workshop open. I wish you all a very fruitful workshop.

Thank you.