Asean hails ‘deepening links’ with APT partners
Izah Azahari

HIS Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam yesterday expressed content with the achievements and progress of the Asean Plus Three (APT) of ensuring economic recovery, financial stability and deepening links amongst all participating countries in order to strengthen regional cooperation towards the building of an East Asian Community.

His Majesty, as Chairman of Asean 2013, consented to deliver the opening titah at the 16th Asean Plus Three (APT) Summit at the International Convention Centre yesterday, attended by heads of state and government of Asean member states, the Republic of China, Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK).

His Majesty further stated in his opening titah that over the last year, APT has worked hard in advancing its cooperation where substantial number of projects and initiatives had been carried out, particularly the recent measures taken to strengthen regional surveillance mechanism and financial safety net. His Majesty believed that these would further contribute towards ensuring sustainable economic growth and further deepen the integration of the East Asia region.

“Despite the current global economic situation, I am pleased to note that the trade and investment amongst our countries continue to grow, and this underscores the need to further advance our important cooperation,” stated His Majesty.

His Majesty added that there is still more that APT can do together, such as exploring ways to enhance the regional supply chain with a focus on developing the SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises) in the region, adding that the APT should also encourage the involvement of all relevant stakeholders and fully utilise existing means like the trade and investment centres in China, Japan and the Republic of Korea to support APT’s efforts.

“At the same time, we very much look forward to the support of our Plus Three friends for a timely and successful conclusion of the negotiations for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP),” stated His Majesty.

On the socio-cultural aspect, His Majesty shared that APT should continue to strengthen its people-to-people ties by creating more opportunities for them to meet through youth exchanges, education and tourism.

“Despite these achievements, our region still faces challenges. I hope we can step up our efforts in key areas of common interest such as health related issues, including emerging infectious diseases and Pandemic Preparedness and Response. We have done very well in this field in the past, and it is time for us to reaffirm our commitment to intensify our efforts on this,” His Majesty stated further.

His Majesty then added that food security is another area that has seen many achievements, and going forward, it would be good to continue strengthening the Asean Plus Three Emergency Rice Reserve. His Majesty added that APT could increase collaboration on energy security, and believes that APT could further explore ways to enhance coordination with one another in the areas of disaster management and connectivity.

“This is where we can utilise our think-tanks, namely, the East Asia Forum and the Network of East Asian Think-Tanks (NEAT). Our officials should consider these recommendations and jointly explore ways to undertake implementation, and also provide them with feedback for their future work,” suggested His Majesty at the APT Summit.

Moreover, His Majesty welcomed the new Work Plan that has been put forward by APT officials, and commended their hard work in updating it to include new priority areas to further the region’s development and strengthening their collaboration over the next five years.

His Majesty further stated that all this would add towards Asean’s community building efforts, and looked forward to its effective implementation.

In addition, His Majesty also noted that APT officials would soon commence their work on a comprehensive assessment of the Report East Asia Vision Group II (EAVG II), and would deliver an outcome by next year’s summit. - Borneo Bulletin (11 October 2013)