By Azaraimy HH in Hanoi
Since the China-Asean Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) came into effect in January 2010, bilateral trade between Brunei Darussalam and the People's Republic of China has been outstanding. In the first half of 2010, trade between the two nations reached a record high of US$526 million.
China is Asean's largest trading partner, where two-way trade has soar past US$200 billion. By 2015, Asean and China hope to reach new trade heights of US$500 billion.
During the meeting, Asean leaders, including His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, expressed their appreciation to China for supporting community building efforts and central role in regional cooperation processes. The leaders also discussed ways and means to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Asean-China Dialogue Relations in 2011, which has been defined as the Asean-China Exchange and Friendship year.
The leaders welcomed the implementation of the CAFTA and other related agreements started from January 1, 2010. China has now become Asean's largest trading partner, with two-way trade amounted to over US$200 billion.
The two sides agreed to promote effective implementation of agreements within the framework of ACFTA towards the goal of increasing two-way trade volume to US$500 billion and China's investment into Asean to US$10 billion by 2015.
According to a press release from the Prime Minister's Office, His Majesty yesterday consented to attend the 13th Asean-Japan Summit, the 13th Asean-ROK Summit, the 13th Asean-China Summit, the 13th Asean+3 Summit and the 3rd Asean-UN Summit at the National Convention Centre in Hanoi.
In the morning, His Majesty consented to attend the 13th Asean-Japan Summit together with the other Asean Heads of State and the Prime Minister of Japan, Mr Naoto Kan. His Majesty and the Heads of State of Asean and Japan exchanged views on Asean-Japan cooperation.
In His Majesty's Titah, the ruler expressed his pleasure to note that Japan's 'New Growth Strategy' will continue its engagement with Asian partners including Asean, through increased economic cooperation. Japan is an important trading partner to Asean and its investment in Asean remains steady.
His Majesty hoped this economic relationship would be further enhanced with the full implementation of Asean-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership (AJCEP) in particular with the commencement of negotiations on services and investment.
His Majesty also expressed his pleasure at the progress of Asean-Japan relations, including in areas of security cooperation, transnational crime, maritime security and counter-terrorism, and looks forward to Japan's continued support.
His Majesty also welcomed Japan's leading role in the area of energy, especially in creating a low carbon society. This is in line with the objectives of the Statement on Joint Response to Climate Change, which Asean issued last year. His Majesty hoped that Asean and Japan can continue to work together to promote research and education in this field.
His Majesty also appreciated Japan's contribution towards the implementation of the Master Plan on Asean Connectivity. This will complement well with the work Asean is currently doing on transportation and telecommunications and Japan's collaboration with sub-regional development areas in South East Asia, such as the BIMP-EAGA.
On people-to people contacts, His Majesty is encouraged by the many initiatives done to promote exchanges, such as Japan-East Asia Network of Exchange for Students and Youths Programme, and the Youth Ship, and suggested such exchanges be expanded to include junior diplomats and trade officials. Such initiatives are important in strengthening Asean-Japan partnerships.
In terms of future cooperation, His Majesty suggested for the forum to consider implementing the recommendations of the Asean-Japan Eminent Persons Group in the form of a new Plan of Action on Asean-Japan cooperation. This would help ensure that future cooperation initiatives would continue to be relevant to the peoples of both Asean and Japan.
Later in the morning, His Majesty attended the 13th Asean-Republic of Korea Summit, together with the other Asean Heads of State and the President of the Republic of Korea, Mr Lee Myung Bak. His Majesty and the Heads of State of Asean and Korea exchanged views on Asean-Republic of Korea cooperation.
In His Majesty's titah, the monarch echoed Asean's support for the Korean's Government position on the situation on the Korean peninsula, and hopes that all sides be committed to ensuring peace and stability in the region, through dialogue and consultations, including through the Six-Party Talks.
His Majesty also expressed his pleasure that the Asean-Korea Free Trade Agreement has entered into force earlier this year, and stressed the need to promote more awareness about it amongst the private sector so that they can fully utilise it.
His Majesty is also pleased to see progress being made in Asean-Korea cooperation in various fields. His Majesty appreciates Korean expertise and assistance to Asean in fields such as ICT, education, and 'low carbon green growth', and hopes such projects will continue to enhance Asean's capacity, which is in line with what Brunei is trying to pursue. His Majesty also welcomes greater cultural and people-to-people exchanges between Asean and Korea to foster better understanding amongst the people. In political and security matters, including efforts to combat transnational crimes, His Majesty said these efforts should continue and urges further cooperation in areas such as counter-terrorism and maritime issues.
His Majesty said that Korea is one of the Asean's important strategic partners, one whose contribution and support is much valued in the region. Asean and Korea relations have grown steadily over the years and Asean sees Korea as an important economic and strategic player in the region.
In the afternoon, His Majesty consented to attend a Luncheon of Asean Plus Three Heads of State and Government at the National Convention Centre in Hanoi. Also present were the other Asean Heads of State and Government, the President of the Republic of Korea, and the Prime Ministers of Japan and China.
In the afternoon, His Majesty consented to attend the 13th Asean-China Summit, along with the other Asean Heads of State and the Chinese Prime Minister, Wen Jiabao, where the leaders exchanged views on Asean-China cooperation.
In His Majesty's Titah, the ruler expressed his pleasure at the positive growth in Asean-China relations and its remarkable achievements, and expressed his support for the New Plan of Action on Asean-China cooperation, which will guide Asean-China cooperation over the next five years.
His Majesty also mentioned about the Asean-China Free Trade Area which came into realisation earlier this year, and efforts to continue to make improvements to the FTA. Similarly with efforts in the political and security area, with the realisation of the first Asean Defence Ministers' Meeting Plus Mechanism, at which China was represented.
In light of the 20th anniversary of Asean-China relations next year, His Majesty hopes to see more people-oriented initiatives so as to provide greater opportunities for people of both regions to interact at all levels, especially students and youth.
His Majesty also fully supported the proposal to make next year the Asean-China Friendship and Exchange Year.
Later in the afternoon, His Majesty consented to attended the 13th Asean Plus Three Summit at the National Convention Centre. In the Summit, His Majesty, along with the other leaders of Asean, the President of the Republic of Korea, and the Prime Ministers of Japan and China, discussed and exchanged views on initiatives under the Asean+3 forum.
In His Majesty's Titah, the monarch said that the Asean+3 process has become the most dynamic, effective and responsive mechanism to address challenges and the needs of the people of the region, and has contributed much towards development, building mutual understanding and trust as well as strengthening regional peace and stability.
His Majesty also said that he is happy with current efforts to establish the Asean Plus Three Emergency Rice Reserve (APTERR) as a permanent mechanism to ensure food security in the region. His Majesty thanked the Asean Plus Three partners for their contribution and efforts.
His Majesty also touched on education, which has been identified as one of the key priorities under the Roadmap for an Asean Community. His Majesty is pleased that Asean Plus Three officials are already looking at ways to further expand and strengthen cooperation in this area.
Accompanying His Majesty during the meetings was were Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Dewa Dato Seri Setia Lim Jock Seng, Second Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Later in the afternoon, His Majesty attended the 3rd Asean-UN Summit at the National Convention Centre in Hanoi. Present at the summit meeting were Asean Heads of State and the United Nations Secretary General, Mr Ban Ki-Moon. Leaders exchanged views and discussed areas of concern between Asean and the UN.
In His Majesty's Titah, the ruler expressed his appreciation over the United Nations' long standing partnership with Asean, with cooperation that covers a wide range of activities with many UN specialised agencies such as the UNDP, ESCAP, UNESCO, UNICEF and the WHO, to name a few. The region has greatly benefitted from this cooperation.
His Majesty also hopes that the UN will continue to support Asean in its efforts to achieve some of its objectives, such as realising the Asean Community, in narrowing the developmental gap in the region, and in the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals. His Majesty feels that Asean and the UN can strengthen cooperation in vital areas such as education, health, agriculture, and communications.
Also present at the meeting were Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Abdul Rahman bin Haji Ibrahim, Second Minister of Finance at the Prime Minister's Office, Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Dewa Dato Seri Setia Lim Jock Seng, Second Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and other senior officials.
In the evening, His Majesty consented to attend a Gala Dinner at the Banquet Hall of the National Convention Centre in Hanoi. The Gala Dinner was hosted by Nguyen Tan Dung, Prime Minister of Vietnam. Also present at the Gala dinner were other Asean Heads of States and Government, dialogue partners, the UN Secretary General and their delegations.
Accompanying His Majesty at the Gala Dinner were Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Abdul Rahman bin Haji Ibrahim, Second Minister of Finance at the Prime Minister's Office, and Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Dewa Dato Seri Setia Lim Jock Seng, Second Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and other senior officials.
- Borneo Bulletin
(30th October 2010)