H.E. Minister Lloyd Axworthy
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to welcome behalf of my ASEAN colleagues, the Foreign Minister of Canada, H.E. Mr. Lloyd Axworthy and members of Canadian delegation to Malaysia, on the occasion of the 30th ASEAN Ministerial Meeting and Post Ministerial Conferences.
May I also welcome this distinguished delegates from the LAO People’s Democratic Republic and the Union of Myanmar, who are participating in our Dialogue Meeting for the first time since joining ASEAN on 23 July 1997.
Our Meeting today will provide us with the opportunity to renew our acquaintances, share our thoughts on regional development and exchange ideas on ways and means to enhance our dialogue relations further.
In this context, Mr. Co-Chairman, the PMC, both plenary and bilateral, has contribute much towards fostering a better understanding and promoting greater cooperation between ASEAN and its, dialogue partners. ASEAN is, of course; mindful of the need to constancy review the PMC format to ensure the effectiveness of the PMC 9 + 10 and PMC 9 + 1 sessions. We have, in this regard, received several views and proposals from our dialogue friends including Canada. In this connection, let me thank you, Mr. Co-Chairman, for sharing your views and thoughts with us on the PMC.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Since our last dialogue meeting in Jakarta a year ago, several positive developments have taken place in the ASEAN region. The most important development was the historic decision made by the ASEAN Leaders at their First informal Summit Meeting in Jakarta last year to admit Cambodia, Laos And Myanmar into the ASEAN Family of Nations, to realise the vision of the ASEAN founding fathers for one South East Asia in peace and prosperity. As you are already aware, Mr. Co-Chairman, Laos and Myanmar were formally admitted into ASEAN five days ago on 23 July, 1997. The admission, of Laos and Myanmar into the Association of the South East Asian Nations would herald an era of greater cooperation, understanding and Solidarity among its members in the region.
1997 is an auspicious year for both ASEAN and Canada. As ASEAN celebrates its 30th Anniversary, the ASEAN-Canada Dialogue relations enters its 20th year. Indeed we have gone a long way in the history of our fruitful collaboration and in those 20 years, we have seen Canada’s active participation and support for the development of the :ASEAN region, through its involvement in the region’s economic, development programmes. In those 20 years, ASEAN too has benefited from the technical training programmes and the transfer of technology, carried out either under the ASEAN-Canada Development Cooperation Programmes or the respective bilateral programmes.
The declaration of 1997 as Canada’s Year of the Asia-Pacific (CYAP). to coincide with its APEC chairmanship, is yet another commendable initiative on the part of Canada to identify half with the region. ASEAN is following with great interest the CYAP programmes to bring Canada closer to our region. ASEAN is confident that the programmes would present the peoples of ASEAN and Canada with greater opportunities for contact and interaction.
On the ASEAN-Canada Dialogue relations, I am also glad to note that further progress has been achieved since our last dialogue meeting in Jakarta in 1996. Our Senior Officials have met twice – the 2nd Joint planning and
Monitoring committee (JPMC) in Singapore and the 11th Joint Cooperation Committee (JCC) in Montreal – to further strengthen our cooperation. Three major cooperation projects namely the ASEAN Institute of Forest Management (AIFM). ASEAN Forest Tree Seed Centre (AFTSC) and ASEAN Fisheries Post Harvest Technology Project (AFPHTP) have successfully been completed in the course of 1997 which, Mr. Co-Chairman, will be handed over to ASEAN at the end of our session today.
With regard to our trade relations, we are happy to note that the ASEAN-Canada trade has expanded somewhat registering an upward trend since 1993, According to our record, ASEAN – Canada two-way total trade from 1993 to Jun 1996 reached a figure of dose to US$14 billion. This is indeed an encouraging figure, even though it only represents a small percentage of our respective global trade. To further increase the flow of our trade, greater trade facilitation Measures need to be adopted. Toward this end. I am glad to note that our business leaders, spearheaded by the ASEAN – Canada Business Council, had drawn up specific programmes at their last meeting in Montreal in May, 1997, to achieve this objective.
On investment, Canada’s presence in the ASEAN region is still small. With the implementation of the various ASEAN economic/trade Programmes such as AFTA, ASEAN Industrial Cooperation (AICO) and ASEAN Investment Area(AIA), there are tremendous opportunities available in the ASEAN region for the Canadian business community and investors to exploit. In addition, the ASEAN Mekong Basin Development programmes would also offer enormous potentials for Canadian business sector to particapate in the economic development of the Mekong Basin.
Since the convening of our first dialogue in 1977, the world order is no longer the same. It underwent through many changes to become what it is today – globalised, liberalised, highly competitive and interdependent. To remain relevant ASEAN – Canada Dialogue must take into cognisance of these global as well as regional changes. At the same time, it must prepare itself to meet the challenges of the next millennium. Our role is thus crucial in providing new direction and focus to the ASEAN – Canada Dialogue relations, In this light, ASEAN shares Canada’s view on the need to revitalise the JCC and I am glad that the 11th ASEAN-Canada JCC in Montreal had decided to establish a Working Committee to look into it.
ASEAN hopes that in working towards a now dynamism in the ASEAN- Canada dialogue relations, the raison d’etre of our dialogue, that is, development cooperation would not be marginalised. Both ASEAN and Canada are desirous to achieve greater heights in our cooperation. I am confident the Working Committee would be able to produce an effective action oriented programme.
This year marks the final year of Malaysia’s coordinatorship of the ASEAN-Canada Dialogue. As we hand over the baton of cooperation to the next ASEAN coordinator, the Philippines, let me take this opportunity, to express our gratitude and appreciation to Canada, for the cooperation and support that has been extended to Malaysia in the three years of our coordinatorship, which has helped to move forward the dialogue process, To our colleague from the Philippines, let me wish you all the best.