by H.E. General Prayut Chan-o-cha, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand
at the ASEAN-ROK CEO Summit 2019
25 November 2019
at BEXCO, Busan, the Republic of Korea
* * * * *
President Moon Jae-In,
Fellow ASEAN Leaders,
Business Leaders, Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. It is an honour for me to join you, Mr. President, and business leaders from throughout the region and the world for the ASEAN-ROK CEO Summit, which is being organised alongside the 3rd ASEAN-ROK Commemorative Summit. The CEO Summit is a great opportunity for the government and private sectors to interact and share their vision and innovation on how to enhance business links between ASEAN and the ROK. Now allow me to continue my remarks in Thai.
2. As ASEAN Chair, Thailand has the important task of working with all of the country coordinators of our Dialogue Relations to consolidate and advance cooperation between ASEAN and our Dialogue Partners -- the Republic of Korea being one of our key Dialogue Partners. And we have sought to do so guided by our Chairmanship theme of “Advancing Partnership for Sustainability” in order to build an ASEAN Community that is people-centred, leaves no one behind and looks to the future. Under this theme, Thailand, as ASEAN Chair, has attached importance to ensuring a “Seamless ASEAN Connected to the World”; to promoting sustainability in all dimensions, especially sustainable economic growth and development; and to preparing for a Digital and Green ASEAN.
3. ASEAN has always given importance to trade facilitation. That is why, for example, we have been working to operationalise the ASEAN Single Window (ASW) among all 10 Member States within 2019. Once we achieve this, we could consider expanding it in the future to include our Dialogue Partners. The ASEAN Single Window is expected to decrease redundancies, save time, reduce costs for the private sector as well as increase transparency in the trading process among ASEAN Member States. Moreover, we are also pleased to support the private sector’s initiatives to enhance digital trade connectivity. We therefore encourage them to link up with all relevant business partners in order to eventually achieve international digital trade data harmonization in all sectors. This also includes greater connectivity between the public and private sectors in the future. In addition, we are determined to continue to promote regional connectivity through lowering trade barriers by encouraging ASEAN Member States to carry out the “Guidelines for the Implementation of ASEAN Commitments on Non-tariff Measures on Goods”. This will help improve transparency in the use of Non-Tariff Measures (NTMs) by ASEAN Member States and prevent the trade- distortion effects of NTMs.
4. As ASEAN Chair, Thailand also attaches great importance to concluding negotiations for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement, which have been on-going for over seven years. The conclusion of text-based negotiations among 15 RCEP Participating Countries within this year and all efforts to be made towards the signing of the Agreement in 2020 will help create trade and investment opportunities as well as further widen and deepen regional value chains in the future, benefitting our business sectors and promoting cooperation in a sustainable manner.
5. I am of the view that the private sector plays a crucial role in regional economic development. Indeed, feedback from, and the support of, the private sector are essential because they are key to driving the economy. Thus, there is a need to deepen public – private partnership, as stated in the Plan of Action for Implementing the ASEAN – ROK Joint Statement for Peace, Sustainability and Partnership. In this regard, the ASEAN private sector has been making plans and setting goals to enhance their capacity in response to the challenges of this age of rapid change in the following areas:
6. First is the development of a skilled workforce so as to prepare for the digital and modern technology revolution. The trend towards the digital economy, where technology is expected to replace humans on the job, means ASEAN may have to address the problem of unemployment in the future. Therefore, it is important that we put forward programmes to continuously support the growth and development of MSMEs such as through the MSMEs Development Programmes and through other programmes initiated by the private sector, such as the ASEAN Human Empowerment and Development or AHEAD; the ASEAN Mentorship for Entrepreneurs Network; and the Big Brother Programme.
7. Second is enhancement of the digital environment through developing digital infrastructure and digital connectivity among ASEAN Member States.
8. Third is cooperation in the Creative Economy industry, including through developing creative content and encouraging edutainment programmes among ASEAN Member States.
9. Fourth is supporting trade cooperation mechanisms and platforms, especially to promote private sector cooperation, such as through the ASEAN – ROK Business Council, a key mechanism for the exchange of information on opportunities, challenges and obstacles as well as for cooperation on the development of regional SMEs between ASEAN and the Republic of Korea. As a matter of fact, I emphasised this very point at the 2nd ASEAN – ROK Commemorative Summit five years ago.
10. Moreover, Governments should support the private sector in their endeavour to capture the benefits and privileges provided for under the ASEAN – Korea Free Trade Agreement (ASEAN-Korea FTA). Doing so would benefit trade and investment among us, particularly in areas of economic cooperation where the ROK has expertise, such as technology and innovation. Sharing information in these areas would be of great benefit for ASEAN. Governments should also promote trade facilitation, such as through reducing Non-Tariff Barriers to Trade (NTBs) and Non-Tariff Measures (NTMs) for the mutual benefit of our two sides.
11. In conclusion, I believe that the ASEAN – ROK CEO Summit 2019 is another important forum for the promotion of cooperation and prosperity between us. I hope that participants will benefit from the sharing of information, knowledge, perspectives, and expertise offered here, especially from the policy recommendations given by leaders from the Government, business and other sectors. I am confident that the ASEAN – ROK CEO Summit 2019 will be a great success and will generate business opportunities and economic benefits for ASEAN Member States and the ROK, ultimately contributing to regional stability, prosperity, and sustainability.
12. Kham-sa-ham-ni-da. Thank you.
* * * * *