Your Excellency, Minister Lloyd Axworthy,
Distinguished Members of the Canadian and ASEAN Delegations,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of our host and my ASEAN colleagues, I wish to extend my sincere welcome to Minister Lloyd Axworthy and his delegation to this year’s ASEAN-Canada Post Ministerial Conference.
I also welcome the members of the Cambodian delegation,, headed by H.E. Hor Namhong, who are attending this PMC 10+1 Meeting for the first time. Cambodia’s participation in this meeting reflects the successful collaboration between the ‘ASEAN Troika” and the “Friends of Cambodia’, of which Canada was an important pillar.
Likewise, I wish to thank the Secretary-General of ASEAN and his staff for their continued support of ASEAN-Canada joint activities.
Road to Economic Recovery
When we met in Manila last year, our region was reeling hard from the economic and financial crisis.
Today, two years after the crisis began, many economists feel that our region is on the road to full recovery. The worst, it seems, is over, but the work of restructuring and reform continues.
In a September 1998 report, the Canadian fact-finding mission to Southeast Asia traced the proximate cause of the regional financial crisis to the global push for liberalization of financial markets. ASEAN would therefore wish to cooperate with Canada, and the G-8 members and other economies, in reshaping the international financial architecture to curb volatility, particularly of short-term capital flows, and support productive long-term investment.
ASEAN wishes to thank Canada for supporting its recovery efforts. In particular, we look forward to formulating cooperative projects under the two important areas identified by Canada, namely, “Strengthening Regional Financial Systems’ and “Addressing the Social Impact of the Financial Crisis”.
Addressing Transnational Concerns
As we continue to tread the path towards globalization, we will inevitably be confronted by transnational concerns such as environmental degradation, ensuring peace and stability, and organized crime.
In this light, we would appreciate receiving an update, on developments relative to Canada’s project proposal to address the forest fire and haze problem in the region. We also wish to convey our appreciation for Canada’s confidence building initiative in extending the South China Sea Workshop series for another five years. At the same time, we would very much welcome Canada’s cooperation in the implementation of the ASEAN Plan of Action to Combat Transnational Crime, as well as in the future activities of the ASEAN Center for Combating Transnational Crime.
Future Directions for ASEAN-CANADA Dialogue Relations
Canada is a much-valued dialogue partner. We are therefore encouraged by the results of the Working Group Meeting on the Revitalization of the ASEAN-Canada Dialogue Relations held in Manila in February 1999. Specifically, the innovative thematic approach for ASEAN-Canada JCC meetings promises to transform this body into a more flexible, progressive, and substantive vehicle for future cooperation.
In our mutual desire to move our Dialogue forward, we hope to lay the groundwork for the early convening of thel 12th ASEAN-Canada JCC Meeting in the Philippines and to facilitate the implementation of development cooperation projects.
We should also be able to effectively work out appropriate arrangements where the concerns of both ASEAN and Canada are fully taken into account particularly in the operation of the Regional Training Program and the full participation of ASEAN countries in ASEAN-Canada development projects. We are likewise pleased to note Canada’s interest in the activities of the ASEAN Foundation.
Canada’s expressed wish to actively work with us in the realization of the Hanoi Plan of Action is also most welcome. We see this as an important anchor of our discussions today and of an even closer and more productive ASEAN-Canada partnership.