Your Right Honourable Don McKinnon,
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of New Zealand,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
First of all on behalf of the ASEAN colleagues, may I extend our warm greetings to Your Excellency and your Delegation to this PMC Dialogue Session between ASEAN and New Zealand.
I wished also like to warmly welcome the representatives of Laos and Myanmar to this Meeting for the first time as new members of ASEAN. Your presence will certainly enrich the contents of the ASEAN – New Zealand relations in general and those of our discussion this afternoon in particular.
Vietnam has been honoured to be the Country Coordinator for the ASEAN – New Zealand Dialogue over the past two years. We are pleased to note that over the past years, the relations between ASEAN and New Zealand have seen positive developments and enjoyed fine prospects for further broadening and intensifying the ASEAN-New Zealand partnership towards the 21st century.
This is a good opportunity for us to review the ASEAN-New Zealand relation and exchange views on matters of mutual concern.
Despite some recent complicated developments in some areas in the region, the main trend of the region remains to be one of peace, stability and cooperation for development. The efforts made so far for political and security cooperation within ASEAN and between ASEAN and the concerned non-ASEAN parties helped that trend prevail. The ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), born only three years ago at the initiative of ASEAN, has been playing an active role. Having entered into force since March 1997, the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapons Free Zone Treaty (SEANWFZ) represents as the first treaty of this kind in Asia and as a great contribution by the regional countries to peace, stability in Southeast Asia. The Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC), the key legal document of ASEAN, has become the common property of the 10 Southeast Asian countries. Once the legal formalities for the participation into the TAC by countries outside the region are finalised, their proposed association with the TAC will serve as positive contributions to peace, stability and cooperation in our region.
I am very pleased to inform Your Excellency that, ASEAN has made significant progress in intensifying the closer economic integration process. 1997 is the 5th year ASEAN implements the CEPT/AFTA. Though having gone only half way, nearly 91% of all tariff lines in ASEAN have already been included in the CEPT Scheme with the average tariff rates for products in the Inclusion List falling to 6.38% from 12.76% in 1993. Together with the considerable progress in implementing CEPT/AFTA, the cooperation in other economic fields such as industry, investment, services, etc., has also seen promising development. The ASEAN Industrial Cooperation Scheme (AICO) has entered into the stage of speedy implementation. AEAN is actively preparing for a Framework Agreement to establish an ASEAN Investment Area in order to a ASEAN into a highly attractive and competitive market for investment. In developing their enterprises, ASEAN pays high attention to the development of small and medium enterprises (SMEs). However, in several ASEAN countries, the SMEs are not yet fully developed to be competitive at international market. The two sides should discuss measures to further revitalise the linkages between business communities of the two sides, especially those of SMEs.
ASEAN market is now being expanded to ten countries with a combined population of over 500 million and a GDP of more than US$600 billion. Within the next decade, the combined GDP of ASEAN is expected to exceed US$ 1 trillion. Proceeding from the momentum of the economic achievements recorded, ASEAN is determined to maintain its high growth rate and competitiveness by further intensifying and broadening its efforts for collective cooperation and mutual assistance aimed to reducing the development disparity and contributing to the maintenance and consolidation of an open and fair multilateral trading system. This process itself at thesame time will create many great opportunities for partners outside ASEAN, of which New Zealand can take the advantage to fully employ the potentials for economic, trade and investment cooperation within ASEAN.
The Mekong Basin Development Cooperation Program constitutes one of important efforts in ASEAN cooperation. Significant progress has been made to prepare for the stage of substantive realisation of this Program. The participation of countries outside region and international organisations stand as an essential factor to ensure its success. ASEAN welcomes New Zealand to actively participate in this program through concrete projects, especially in the fields of infrastructure, such as road and railway construction, agriculture, forestry, fishery and technology and capital transfer.
The leaders of ASEAN countries at their first Informal Summit agreed to established an ASEAN Foundation. Its main objective is to promote ASEAN awareness, increase interaction among ASEAN peoples through human resource development and improve people’s life through the promotion of equitable economic development, alleviation of poverty and reduction of economic and social disparities within ASEAN. ASEAN wishes to enjoy New Zealand’s support for this initiative and hopes that New Zealand will consider its contribution to assist the operations of the ASEAN Foundation in future.
ASEAN highly values New Zealand for its commitments to the region through the implementation of the Program “Asia 2000″. Heading toward the 21st century, ASEAN is now formulating the ASEAN Vision 2020 designed to maintaining and strengthening a durable peace, stability and security in the region and building an ASEAN Economic Region of dynamic development, prosperity and internationally high competitiveness. The coonvergence in the interest of both sides will definitely create greater opportunities for further broadening and deepening the ASEAN-New Zealand cooperation.
ASEAN-New Zealand cooperation has grown more mature, from mainly an agro-based activities and development cooperation to new areas, such as investment, tourism, human resource development and scientific and technological research with commercial and industrial orientation. At the recent 13th ASEAN-New Zealand Dialogue held in Hanoi in October 1996, the two sides discussed measures to further develop the potentials and mutual complementary between the two sides in the areas of trade, investment, science and technology and human resource development. On trade and investment, the two sides have discussed the possibility for establishing Adhoc Expert Group in order to come up with the measures for increasing the two way investment and trade flow. ASEAN is finalising the draft Terms of Reference for the Adhoc Group’s operations. ASEAN wishes that New Zealand will closely collaborate with ASEAN in order to bring the proposed Group into operation soon.
The ASEAN-New Zealand Economic Cooperation Program (ANZECP) has been carried out actively and seen encouraging developments. The Trade and Investment Promotion Program (TIPP) – a main pillar of ANZECP – is being implemented in a new direction, focusing on projects of regional nature and probably being limited in number but larger in scale and oriented towards identified objectives. With regards to TIPP, it is encouraging that ASEAN, New Zealand and Australia are presently forming a legal framework and working out measures to promote AFTA-CER linkages. I strongly believe that a closer economic link between AFTA and CER will benefit both ASEAN and New Zealand. The enhancement of informal consultations between ASEAN Economic Ministers and their CER Ministerial Colleagues as well as the signing of MOU on Standards and Conformance Cooperation on the occasion of the 28th AEM in September 1996, stand as right steps which should be further promoted in the future. Therefore, besides existing projects, the two sides should identify more TIPP projects with the aim to developing economic synergy of the two sides.
In the field of scientific and technical cooperation, New Zealand has considerable potentials and experiences which suit ASEAN. The two sides are competing with time to design the projects for cooperation in biological technology and materials science. We expect that these projects will be carried out as scheduled.
Development cooperation always constitutes an important component in the co-operative relations between ASEAN and New Zealand. As a matter of the fact that expanded ASEAN includes less developed countries, one of the important objectives of ASEAN cooperation is to promote equal development and gradually narrow down the gap of development among ASEAN countries. On this matter, efforts of each country and joint efforts of ASEAN am a decisive, factor. However, cooperation and assistance from dialogue partners including New Zealand is very important. ASEAN highly values New Zealand for its contribution during the last time. ASEAN hopes to further promote cooperation for development with New Zealand in the time to come. ASEAN highly appreciates New Zealand’s policy for further cooperation in this field on the basis of non-discrimination and satisfactorily taking into account of special needs of less-developed countries in ASEAN.
Mr. Foreign Minister,
To conclude, I would like to take this opportunity to express sincere thanks to New Zealand and other ASEAN members for according to Vietnam the privilege to be the country coordinator in ASEAN-New Zealand dialogue. We will do our best to actively contribute to the further promotion of fine relations between ASEAN and New Zealand in the coming time.
We are looking forward to having an useful and constructive discussion with you this afternoon.