Your Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen:

On behalf of the Philippine delegation, I would like to welcome all of you to Manila and to this Special Joint Ministerial Meeting. I would also like to extend special greetings to the ASEAN Finance Ministers, who are meeting with his for the first time.

The Third ASEAN Informal Summit, which this meeting is meant to prepare for, is important for ASEAN as it enters a new millenium of challenges and opportunities. The results 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 as 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 no productive to deal with issues as complex as environment, 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 bus manifold aspects and requires multi-dimensional cooperative 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 purpose, 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 amount of creativity, flexibility and openness.

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

Thank you.