by His Excellency General Prayut Chan-o-cha (Ret.) Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand
at the Press Conference on Outcome Documents of the 8th Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) Summit
on 16 June 2018, Shangri-La Hotel, Bangkok
1. On behalf of the Royal Thai Government, I am honoured to host the 8th Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy or ACMECS Summit, and related events; namely the ACMECS CEO Forum, the Gala Dinner to welcome ACMECS Leaders and delegations, and the Interactive Lunch between ACMECS Leaders and business executives. The Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, the Prime Minister of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, the President of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, and the Prime Minister of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam, as well as Secretary-General of ASEAN attended the Summit under the theme “Towards an Integrated and Connected Mekong Community,” reflecting the aim and future direction of ACMECS in moving forward together to narrow economic development gap and promote sustainable growth in the Mekong sub-region.
2. This morning, the 8th ACMECS Summit commenced with the Opening Ceremony in which I delivered an Opening Remarks, reflecting geo-political, economic landscape, social and environment changes in the world. Established 15 years ago, the time has come for ACMECS to adapt to these changes and embrace new challenges. Thus, we have adopted the ACMECS Master Plan, initiated by the Thai side, the first of its kind in the sub-region, which reflects ACMECS’ future direction. This Master Plan is well in line with Thailand’s economic policies; namely Thailand 4.0 and the development of the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC) Project. ACMECS Master Plan will help our sub-region integrate into the global value and supply chains through application of knowledge and innovation, access to digital technology, and Public-Private Partnership (PPP) or what Thailand refers to as “Pracharat” policy. Furthermore, we are pleased to learn that ACMECS has attracted interest and support from over 30 development partners, international organizations, and international financial institutions. Thailand has also received congratulatory messages from Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, Prime Minister of Japan, Foreign Ministers of South Korea and Australia, and Presidents of AIIB and ADB expressing interests to become development partners on the occasion of this Summit.
3. After the Opening Ceremony, the five ACMECS Leaders and the ASEAN Secretary-General met in a closed session during which two outcome documents, the ACMECS Master Plan 2019 – 2023 and the Bangkok Declaration, were adopted.
4. ACMECS Leaders agreed that it is timely to rebrand ACMECS and reform its operational structure to effectively respond to the current geopolitical environment in the region and the world. Thailand, as the host of this Summit and founder of ACMECS, is proud that at this Summit, ACMECS Leaders have supported and commended Thailand’s initiative in drafting the first-ever Master Plan of the sub-region, under the vision “Building ACMECS CONNECT by 2023” which will provide a guideline direction for ACMECS in the next five years. The ACMECS Master Plan comprises 3 inspiring goals: (1) “Seamless ACMECS,” which focuses on filling in the missing infrastructures and transportation links, as well as the development of digital infrastructure, and the interconnectivity of energy networks; (2) “Synchronized ACMECS Economies,” which focuses on the harmonization of trade and investment rules and regulations as well as financial cooperation; and (3) “Smart and Sustainable ACMECS,” which focuses on human resources development and application of modern technology as well as cooperation in strategic areas such as environment, agriculture, tourism, public health, development of Smart Cities and cyber-security along with promoting environmental cooperation in various fields such as water resources management, climate change, disaster risk management, and promotion of energy efficiency and renewable energy.
5. With a view to building a more effective and efficient ACMECS, the Leaders have agreed to prioritize projects to be implemented in the early phase (next 2 years). These prioritized projects will focus solely on those urgently needed missing links along the East West Economic Corridor (EWEC) and Southern Economic Corridor (SEC), including hardware, digital, and energy infrastructures, as well as harmonization of rules and customs regulations to facilitate trade and investments between ACMECS countries. We have ambitiously set a goal that goods would be delivered through the East West Economic Corridor within approximately 30 hours, instead of over 5 days as per current practice.
6. Taking into account the ACMECS Leaders’ agreement in having a clear financing source for projects under the Master Plan, Thailand has attached great importance to the issue of sustainability of the source of financing and, therefore, has proposed to related financial agencies to consider possible models for an ACMECS Fund for financing projects under the 3 pillars of ACMECS Master Plan. Thailand expressed her initiation to establish an ACMECS Fund whereby Thailand will contribute an amount of money as seed money. We received support from the members to participate in the meeting of CLMTV financial Senior Officials to be held in Thailand this year. The meeting will discuss the detail for establishing the ACMECS Fund as well as its modalities and TORs. The meeting also agreed that the contribution and support of existing and potential development partners in Mekong sub-region from Asia and Europe, international organizations, and financial institutions to the Fund will be crucial.
7. Apart from setting a firm direction for ACMECS to become an “Integrated and Connected Mekong Community” in the next five years and beyond, I am confident that the ACMECS Master Plan will also complement the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025, narrow the development gap and support ASEAN Community building process. ACMECS Leaders are committed to building an ACMECS community within community to reinforce ASEAN integration and to the achievement of the 2030 United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. In the near future, we will witness ACMECS becoming a sub-region with freer flow of goods, services and investment, and acts as de-facto “land bridge” linking the economies and markets of the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, as well as other parts of Asia and the world.
8. Another outcome document endorsed by the Leaders at this Summit is the Bangkok Declaration which underlines the ACMECS member countries’ commitment to capitalizing on our strengths and diversity and our win-win partnership and cooperation. Development partners and financial institutions will be closely engaged to promote connectivity and sustainable development, which are the main goals of the Master Plan. The meeting commended Thailand, as founder of ACMECS, for hosting the 8th summit in Bangkok. It is evident that this Summit has taken ACMECS one step further towards becoming a stable, prosperous, and sustainable community. The meeting further highlighted “Thailand Plus One” policy which invites all neighboring countries in all their undertakings with a view to truly realizing ACMECS community without leaving no one behind. The Meeting also congratulated the Kingdom of Cambodia on her assumption, as ACMECS next chair.
9. At this summit, Thailand have attached great importance to the promotion of Public – Private Partnership (PPP) or what we call the Pracharat model to drive ACMECS operations. We have, thus, invited over 36 representatives from all sectors, both public and private, as well as potential development partners, international organizations, and financial institutions, to attend the Summit and related events, namely the ACMECS CEO Forum, the Gala Dinner, and the Opening Ceremony of the 8th ACMECS Summit.
10. Yesterday morning, the ACMECS CEO Forum was held under the theme, “Connecting our Future: Enhancing ACMECS Cooperation and Integration” where I delivered an Opening Remarks, followed by remarks from the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia and the President of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar. There were also special addresses by high-ranking executives from multinational corporations such as JD, and regional and international financial institutions such as AIIB and JBIC, who shared their views on driving ACMECS forward. The speakers agreed that ACMECS has tremendous potentials and is particularly attractive to foreign investment. They also praised ACMECS’ initiative in drafting the ACMECS Master Plan, as well as stressed the importance of Public-Private Partnership in promoting infrastructure development, trade and investment, and the initiation of financial sources for funding projects under ACMECS Master Plan. Moreover, we, ACMECS Leaders, were pleased to learn that leading corporates and financial institutions have shown interests to support ACMECS and its Master Plan, which will propel ACMECS in a promising and sustainable future.
11. The Gala Dinner yesterday evening was an opportunity for participants to get to know each other, and enjoy fine Thai cuisine and performances portraying the successes and pride of the Mekong sub-region that is interconnected and enriched with historical ties, valuable culture and beautiful natural landscapes. Most essentially, ACMECS is a community that is united and people-centered, leaving no one behind.
12. After this press conference, I will host an “Interactive Lunch” between ACMECS Leaders and ACMECS CEOs. We have also invited high-ranking representatives from AIIB JBIC ADB and major multinational corporations from within ACMECS and bigger economies like China and Japan to join the event. The five selected CEOs from each ACMECS member country and development partners will discuss on ways and means to propel trade and investment cooperation. This is the first- ever “Interactive Lunch” in our history where Leaders will have the opportunity to talk with top CEOs in a cordial and straightforward manner with a view to driving the regional economy forward.
13. Ladies and Gentlemen, on behalf of the Royal Thai Government, I would like to express my sincere thanks to all ACMECS Leaders for their support to Thailand’s hosting of this 8th ACMECS Summit. I also highly appreciate the kind cooperation from all agencies and the Thai people in hosting this Summit, which has contributed to its success. My special thanks go to the members of the press for following and reporting news and development of the 8th ACMECS Summit. On this note, Thailand had great successes in hosting two summits, which were the 2nd ACD Summit in 2016 and today’s 8th ACMECS Summit. We will be hosting two more Summits that will attract the world’s attention, namely the ASEAN Summit in 2019 and the APEC Summit in 2022.
14. I would like to inform you that, we, ACMECS Leaders, are committed to pushing forward our cooperation under the ACMECS framework and transforming our vision into actions. It is our goal to propel our Mekong sub-region towards stability, prosperity, and sustainability for the well-being of the peoples of the sub-region, ASEAN, and the global community.