Your Excellencies,

Colleagues,

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Good morning. I share with my two co-chairs my warm welcome to all of you to Manila. I also agree with them that today’s unprecedented Special Joint Meeting of ASEAN Economic, Finance and Foreign Ministers is an excellent opportunity to discuss ways by which ASEAN initiatives on various fronts can achieve synergy through better coordination and mutual support of each other’s efforts.

Allow me to brief you on the highlights of yesterday’s Special Finance Ministers Meeting.

ASEAN Finance Ministers agreed that the economic recovery in ASEAN is underway. All ASEAN countries are of our meeting today should therefore serve as meaningful inputs to the discussions of our leaders two days from now.

Last year, the Hanoi Plan of Action was adopted and the first in a series of blueprints to realize the ASEAN Vision 2020. The Hanoi Plan is a testament to three decades of cooperation and represents a concrete first step into a new ASEAN era.

It has also been a useful tool — along with the specific initiatives of the Economic Ministers and Finance Ministers — for addressing the effects of the economic and financial crisis that beset us in the past two years.

However, the road towards Vision 2020 is not paved by plans of action alone, but also by the efficiency and coherence of entire ASEAN system of regional cooperation.

For in today’s interdependent world, it is no longer workable nor productive to deal with issues as complex as environments energy, technology, trade, capital movement or security from just any single perspective* The thorny questions of economic resurgence future Competitiveness, financial stability, social safety nets or regional security that confront ASEAN today each has manifold aspects and requires multi-dimensional cooperatives solutions.

Thus, our Meeting today, the first ever joint meeting of the ASEAN Foreign Ministers, Economic and Finance Ministers, is an opportunity specifically designed to strengthen our unity of purposes; encourage greater coordination among our various forums and institutions, and ensure the success of our collective undertakings.

With that in mind, our goals for this meeting include:

  • A thorough and constructively critical assessment of our progress in the various areas of ASEAN cooperation; and,
  • A discussion of ways to ensure coherence among and support for the various ASEAN initiatives to hasten economic recovery and set the stage not only for sustained growth but also lasting peace in our region.

We will want to Make sure that our many efforts all Converge toward the same single direction of realizing our Vision 2020 to the fullest.

Naturally stronger and more effective cross-sectoral coordination demands that we invest our meeting and our discussions today with the greatest test amount of creativity, flexibility and openness.

Let us inaugurate today the more open, coherent and creative ASEAN Way of the 21st century.

Thank you