Opening Remarks by Samdech Techo HUN SEN Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia At the 2022 ASEAN Leadership and Partnership Forum Under the Theme “Partnership for a Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN “

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Samdech, Excellencies Members of the Royal Government of Cambodia;
Excellencies Ambassadors to the Kingdom of Cambodia; Neak Oknha Kith Meng, Chairman of the ASEAN Business Advisory Council and President of Cambodia Chamber of Commerce;
Excellency Dr. Sok Siphana, Senior Advisor to the Royal Government of Cambodia and Chairman of the Board of Director of the Asian Vision Institute;

Tan Sri Michael Yeoh, Founder and Chairman of the ASEAN Leadership and Partnership Forum and President of the KSI Strategic Institute for Asia Pacific
Excellencies, Ladies, and Gentlemen!
Today, I am very pleased to preside over the Opening Ceremony of the 2022 ASEAN Leadership and Partnership Forum under the theme “Partnerships for a Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN”. I would like to express my gratitude and appreciation to the KSI Strategic Institute for Asia Pacific, ASEAN Business Advisory Council and Asian Vision Institute for organizing this important Forum.

We are proud that, on a long journey over the past 55 years, ASEAN has become a community full of peace, security, stability, dynamics and prosperity. Indeed, while ASEAN has been recovering from the COVID-19 crisis, and moving back towards sustainable growth, the current socio-economic situation in ASEAN as well as in the whole world remains fragile and divided. As a matter of fact, the prolongation of the Russia-Ukraine War has hampered socio-economic recovery, by exacerbating inflationary pressures and worsening congestion in the global transportation system and supply chains, especially in the food industry. At the same time, the tensions of geopolitical competition in some strategic regions, including those in Asia, will continue to pose problems and risks to regional and global stability and prosperity.

These challenges highlight limited international cooperation and mutual trust, which require a strong commitment to re-establish cohesive and extensive partnerships in both regional and global frameworks. I would like to remind that during the early outbreaks of COVID-19, countries closed borders and restricted cross border contacts between people and goods because, at that time, we did not fully understand this disease. Having said that, the lessening of the outbreaks to manageable levels, as we see today, stems from the re-strengthening of cooperation and partnership, through the sharing of vaccines, providing financial assistances, and sharing of technical knowledge in a spirit of understanding and helping one another.

Similarly, within the ASEAN framework, leadership and partnership are key factors that have enabled us to overcome all obstacles, and turn ASEAN into a region that stands out and thrives in all areas. In this spirit, in the current socio-economic situation, we must not only be united, but also strengthen our close partnership and cooperation in line with the theme “ASEAN A.C.T.: Addressing Challenges Together“, set by Cambodia as the Chair of ASEAN in 2022, in order to continue to maintain our progress towards a bright future and common prosperity.

Excellencies, Ladies, and Gentlemen!
With participation of leaders from governments, private sector, national and international organizations as well as research institutes, today’s Forum highlights the responsible leadership and cohesive partnership in our entire ASEAN region. This Forum is a good opportunity to discuss about joint efforts to address all regional and global challenges, as well as to fully seize new emerging opportunities, such as rapid acceleration of digitalization and increase in businesses, trade and investment in the region.

At the same time, I would like to take this opportunity to officially announce the opening of the ASEAN Economic Club. The Club will play a key role in promoting a more cohesive ASEAN economic integration through contribution in monitoring, evaluating and advising, in an independent and professional manner, on the implementation of agreements reached by ASEAN leaders, particularly on free trade agreements, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement and other agreements related to the economic pillar.

In the recent 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting, I proposed the establishment of the ASEAN Green Deal that would allow our region to gradually transition into a community with sustainability, effective use of resources and resilience. In this spirit, I would like to welcome the initiative of the KSI Strategic Institute for Asia Pacific and the Asia Vision Institute to establish the Green Economic or Investment Zone. With the recent enactment of a new investment law, Cambodia is ready to host the very first green economic zone. I would also like to support the establishment of the Cambodia Economic Development Fund, which will contribute to the digital transformation and development of artificial intelligence (AI), and provision of necessary skills and equipment to Cambodia’s workforce in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).

Excellencies, Ladies, and Gentlemen!
For our Forum today, I would like to encourage frank discussions in the spirit of mutual understanding, in order to achieve real fruitful results, and show the world our commitment to continue to strengthen ASEAN Leadership and Partnership amid turmoil and decline in mutual trust, by using peaceful dialogues as a problem-solving mechanism. To give additional inputs for the discussion in today’s Forum, please allow me to share some of my own views as follows:

First. Socio-economic development cannot be achieved, unless there is complete stability and peace. In this sense, ASEAN must avoid the fire of war, where there is no winner or loser, but only destruction and loss of people’ lives. Cambodia, as a country that had experienced many bitter histories because of wars, would like to insist that peaceful settlements of disputes, in a spirit of mutual understanding, and the setting of the well-being of the people as a top priority are win-win policies, leading to true peace and prosperity;

Second. In the context where geopolitical competition is heating up, ASEAN must act as a role model and work together to ensure regional peace, stability and prosperity, by strengthening ASEAN Unity and Centrality and strictly adhering to partnerships and multilateral mechanisms to address challenges. Furthermore, ASEAN must also play a central role and serve as a platform for dialogues and cooperation, while reinforcing an open, transparent, inclusive, and rules-based regional architecture;

Third. To achieve a sustainable and inclusive economic recovery, we must continue to promote economic integration and turn ASEAN into an attractive and dynamic trade and investment hub, particularly by reducing tax and non-tax barriers, and providing mutual supports to accelerate the implementation, and take full advantage of free trade agreements, especially the RCEP Agreement, which is the largest free trade agreement in global history;

Fourth. ASEAN must pay special attention and promote economic security to meet all basic and essential needs of our citizens, and ensure inclusive and equitable accesses to domestic and regional economic growth, by developing strategic infrastructure, strengthening entrepreneurship, providing supports to micro, small and medium enterprises, strengthening education, health and social protection, reducing development gaps, creating jobs and reducing income inequality, and ensuring food security; and

Fifth. ASEAN must look forward and work together to take full advantage of the potentials and opportunities arising from global trends such as circular economy, green economy, and especially digitalization which will be the key driving force in promoting connectivity in all areas, including socio-economy, investment, trade and politics, as well as jointly responding to challenges such as climate change in a timely manner, in line with our theme today.

Excellencies, Ladies, and Gentlemen!
As the Chair of ASEAN in 2022, Cambodia has been actively involved in expanding and strengthening cooperation and partnership in all forms and fields. including socio-economy, trade, investment and politics with friendly countries, development partners and international communities, in both national and regional frameworks, particularly, by organizing dialogues with participation from all stakeholders, Cambodia wants to see the ASEAN region as well as the whole world having true sustainable and inclusive peace, stability and prosperity, with respect for the sovereignty of each country, compliance with international laws, especially the United Nations Charter, and adherence to multilateral mechanisms that are based on dialogues with participation from stakeholders and joint efforts to address challenges in a peaceful, open, understanding and patient manner.

I would like to wish this Forum to run smoothly and fruitfully and wish Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen the four Buddha blessings, namely longevity, nobility, health, and strength. I would like to announce the opening of “the 2022 ASEAN Leadership and Partnership Forum” from now on.

Thank you!