Plus Three leaders express hope for growth with Asean partners
Izah Azahari

FOLLOWING the opening remarks presented by His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam during the 16th Asean Plus Three (APT) Summit, remarks were also delivered by the Republic of Korea’s (ROK) President Park Geun-hye, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and the People’s Republic of China’s Premier of the State Council Li Keqiang.

In her remark, President Park Geun-hye hoped that the summit will serve as an opportunity to make the vision of the APT, which has been discussed thus far, more concrete and actionable.

The ROK President also believes that now is critically important for the APT to develop specific plans to build the East Asian Community of peace, prosperity and progress, which will then be translated into action, further hoping that the summit will be able to contribute to more practical cooperation at the APT through open and candid exchanges of views amongst the leaders.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, meanwhile, reiterated his remark during the 10th APT Summit seven years ago that for peace and prosperity the APT must create an open vigorous East Asia reach in innovation.

“I appreciate that abundant innovative and concrete results have been achieved thanks to the chairing of Asean from all APT countries, and look forward to further development of cooperation.

The APT is an important regional cooperation framework in East Asia along with Japan, China and the ROK trilateral cooperation in the East Asia Summit. I hope each forum will complement each other, and lead to further development of East Asia Regional Cooperation,” stated Prime Minister Abe.

Following the remark delivered by Prime Minister Abe was the remark by Premier Li Keqiang, whereby he stated that the Asean Plus Three cooperation, born out of the Asian financial crisis and under which the APT jointly tackled the impact of the international financial crisis, has played an important role in maintaining regional economic stability.

“Over the years, Asean countries, China, Japan and ROK have made solid progress in cooperation across the board, and overcome difficulties through our own efforts, boosting the momentum of East Asia cooperation. Today, Asean Plus Three countries account for 20 per cent of global GDP, 31 per cent of global imports and exports, and 40 per cent of global economic growth, contributing significantly to the growth of East Asia and the world,” added Premier Li Keqiang.

These figures, he added, show that the APT cooperation is successful and has indeed become the main vehicle and major platform of East Asia cooperation.

Moreover, Premier Li added that with the great progress made over the years, East Asia has become a main driver of global growth, where the fundamental reason behind it is that the region has been able to maintain a hard-won peaceful environment for more than 20 years since the end of the Cold War, in which during this period, East Asia has managed to stay away from war and conflict to focus on development in the region in spite of the outbreak of conflict and turmoil in other parts of the world.

“It is important that all our countries stay committed to the goal of peaceful development and mutually beneficial cooperation, and give high priority to economic development and people’s well-being so as to ensure that East Asia cooperation will stay on track of sound growth,” expressed Premier Li.

Adding to his remark, Premier Li also stated that global economic recovery remains difficult, and the prospects of Asian economy still have uncertainties. And with the international community watching closely on whether the East Asian economy will remain stable for the long run and continue to serve as a main engine of global economic growth, Premier Li expressed that the APT countries have on their shoulders a noble and formidable mission.

In connection to that, Premier Li proposed several steps in a number of areas to strengthen the APT’s mechanism and deliver more tangible results, whereby the APT needs to firmly uphold peace and stability in their region; the APT needs to accelerate the economic integration of East Asia; the APT needs to step up the building of a regional financial safety net; and the APT needs to vigorously deepen cooperation in all fields.

In his first proposal, he stated that China is ready to actively explore the possibility of signing a treaty on good-neighbourliness, friendship and cooperation with Asean countries through properly addressing and managing regional hotspot and sensitive issues.

“Countries should work constructively as partners to jointly manage and control tensions and differences, uphold peace and stability in East Asia and fully seize the historical opportunity for East Asia’s development,” added Premier Li.

Premier Li also stated that the regional economic integration has been a leading trend of the world, and with 16 years of hard work, the APT has become the best developed platform for multilateral cooperation in Asia with its member states, given their strong economic complementarities and vast market, have gradually put in place a sound regional layout of industries and industrial chain.

“We will launch negotiations to upgrade China-Asean Free Trade Area, advance connectivity projects such as the Pan-Asia Railway link, promote financial cooperation and financing platform building, enhance security exchanges, initiate a number of maritime cooperation projects and intensify exchanges in science, technology and environmental protection,” added Premier Li further.

Given the recent volatility in the financial markets of some Asian countries, Premier Li added that it is imperative to strengthen and improve the multi-tiered regional financial safety net, with a focus on strengthening domestic foreign exchange reserves, the regional foreign exchange reserve pool and bilateral currency swap mechanisms, whereby China will work with other countries in the region to push forward cooperation on the Chiang Mai Initiative on Multilateralisation (CMIM).

“China will consider setting up an East Asia maritime cooperation platform and an East Asia modern agriculture training base, and your active participation is welcome,” stated Premier Li further. - Borneo Bulletin (11 October 2013)