“The bilateral partnership between ASEAN and our partners is very important, very productive, and both sides certainly take the relationship very seriously,” said Dr Surin Pitsuwan, Secretary-General of ASEAN.

“Sound, more dynamic and sustainable economic relations with our partner countries has benefitted our people in a lot of aspects,” he said at the 44th ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM) Meeting and Related Meetings in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

This benefit was evident during the sideline events of the AEM yesterday, as the economic ministers from ASEAN Member States and Dialogue Partners. Dr Surin took the honor of opening the ASEAN Garment and Textile Fair 2012 in Angkor COEX, where more than 100 companies from all over ASEAN region took part. Although all the companies are based in ASEAN countries, not all of them originated from ASEAN.

“We are from Japan, but we have representative office in every country in ASEAN. We train the locals to fix the machine, sew, and even build the machine. ASEAN is an important investment destination for us, and capability building for the people is one of our investments,” said Mr Felix Wong, Assistant Manager for Juki Singapore, supplier for sewing machine technology, sewing equipment, and related products.

Artisan d’Angkor is a Cambodian company. With the help of the European Union, the company has been able to provide young Cambodians with professional skills that could meet market needs and thus allow them to find an interesting occupation.

“We have 42 workshops in Siem Reap province and it provides employment to over 1300 people, including more than 900 artisans. Since its creation, Artisans d’Angkor has promoted a fair and sustainable development of Cambodian Arts and Crafts with benefits to rural communities in Siem Reap province,” said Alain Brun, CEO of Artisan d’Angkor.

“Those two examples are only small examples of how a partnership can bring so much benefit to both parties,” concluded Dr Surin. ASEAN and ASEAN Dialogue Partners, as a bigger example, has committed a strong partnership and cooperation for the benefit of developing the whole Asia-Pacific region, to give even stronger support to the endeavor of ASEAN.

To see the pictures from the 44th ASEAN Economic Ministers (AEM) Meeting and Related Meetings, please click here.