Bangkok, 14 July 2010

H.E. Mr. Alongkorn Ponlaboot, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Commerce, Thailand

H.E. Ambassador David Lipman, Head of European Union Delegation to Thailand

Mr. Valentin Mir, Director International Affairs, European Patent Office

Heads of Delegation from ASEAN Member States,


Distinguished Representatives, Delegates, and Observers,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is indeed an honour and privilege for me to join all of you at this Opening Session of the 1st Steering Committee Meeting (SCM) of EC-ASEAN Intellectual Property Rights Co-operation Programme (ECAP) III. On behalf of H.E. Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, the Secretary-General of ASEAN, I would like to convey our best wishes to you for a successful meeting with substantive outcomes. I would also like to express my deep appreciation to the ECAP III Project Management Team and the Department of Intellectual Property, Ministry of Commerce, Thailand, for the excellent arrangements made for this meeting and the warm hospitality extended to all of us attending this meeting. I also extend my heartiest congratulations to Europe for winning the 2010 World Cup.

As you are aware, ASEAN has embarked on the next stage of its dynamic development after four decades of regional cooperation to build the ASEAN Community in 2015. This shift from cooperation to integration is epitomised by the conclusion of the ASEAN Charter and the three Community blueprints, including the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) Blueprint. The ASEAN Economic Community blueprint is being implemented earnestly since 2008. Our implementation rate is about 74% for 2008-2009 based on the AEC Scorecard. We are now working to ensure the remaining 26% of commitments for 2008-2009 is implemented.

While ASEAN has been focusing on the building of the Single Market and Production Base for the first two years of the implementation of the AEC and has notched several successes, including complete tariff elimination for the ASEAN-6 countries in the normal track and having all its free trade arrangements coming into stream in 2010, ASEAN recognises the need to bolster the second pillar of the AEC, which is the building of a competitive ASEAN region that is able to attract more trade and investments. This is especially so as ASEAN is situated in a competitive and dynamic region flanked by countries that are experiencing phenomenal growth and are attracting foreign direct investments. ASEAN must work harder to ensure that it remains the hub for economic integration of the wider East Asia region and to buttress its strong trade and investment relations with its key partners, including the EU.

Needless to say, cooperation in intellectual property rights (IPRs) is one of the major areas of focus of ASEAN in building a competitive economic region. Such cooperation is designed not just to further improve the attraction of ASEAN as a dependable, meaningful and innovative partner of global suppliers and investors. ASEAN would also like to be known globally as a “Creative Economy” as well. These would help to accelerate inclusive economic development, social progress and poverty reduction in ASEAN.

ASEAN has developed concrete initiatives and programs for regional cooperation in IPRs as indicated in the ASEAN IPR Action Plan 2004-2010, the Work Plan for ASEAN Cooperation on Copyrights, and the AEC Blueprint. Our cooperation has progressed in the areas of simplification and harmonisation covering common regional profile in the registration, management, protection and enforcement of IPRs. In this regard, ASEAN has been fortunate to work closely with a number of its Dialogue Partners and organisations, in particular the European Union (EU).

The EU has launched a series of economic co-operation programmes in support of ASEAN, including the series of EC-ASEAN Intellectual Property Rights Co-operation Programmes. The ASEAN Member States have actively participated in, and greatly benefited from the previous programmes, namely the EC-ASEAN Patents and Trade Marks Programme (or ECAP I) and the EC-ASEAN Intellectual Property Rights Co-operation Programme (or ECAP II). These programmes have been a major source of technical assistance to ASEAN, which has proven to be useful, relevant and timely at the regional as well as bilateral levels.

ECAP III is a follow-up programme offered by the EU in response to the strong demand for it from ASEAN Member States. It builds on the results and lessons of ECAP I and II in addressing the challenges to further a common regional footprint on IPRs as well as long-term capacity building in the areas of policy, legal, administrative and enforcement infrastructure relating to IPRs. In essence, ECAP III is a significant and strategic response by ASEAN Member States with EU’s support to ASEAN’s goals in using IP for the promotion of broad-based, equitable and inclusive economic growth, social development, poverty reduction and regional integration.

More immediately, the implementation of ECAP III will help further integrate ASEAN into the global economy and world trading system consistent with the fourth pillar of the AEC which envisages ASEAN being fully plugged into the global economy. This is also in line with the commitments of ASEAN Member States in international IP agreements, especially the WTO Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights. Moreover, ECAP III will provide invaluable support in achieving the objectives of the ASEAN IPR Action Plan, the Work Plan for ASEAN Cooperation on Copyrights and the AEC Blueprint.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

This 1st SCM of ECAP III is itself important to set both the tone and policy direction as we implement the project. In this respect, there will be detailed consideration and discussion on the ECAP III Overall Work Plan 2010-2013 and the first Annual Work Plan. I believe that this meeting will serve as a catalyst to IPR cooperation between ASEAN and EU up to the medium-term as ASEAN moves closer to establishing its AEC by 2015.

On behalf of ASEAN, I would like to reiterate our appreciation for the initiative taken by the EU and the implementing agency, the European Patent Office (EPO), and their generous and sustained support to ASEAN in the field of IP and IPRs. Our cooperation is mutually rewarding, and we look forward to working with the EU and the EPO to facilitate, support and uphold the spirit and intent of the beneficial partnership between ASEAN and the EU in the many years to come. If we take the 2010 World Cup as an analogy, there are many things we can learn from the EU in an educative, creative and entertaining way and benefit from it as we all did in ASEAN watching the European teams compete for the world’s most coveted cup in soccer.

I am sure all of you would participate actively in this meeting and I wish you every success in moving forward the ASEAN agenda on IP and IPR with EU’s support.

Thank you.