AFTER the 17th Asean-China Summit, His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam consented to attend the 17th Asean Plus Three Summit. This summit was attended by the Heads of State and Government of Asean, People’s Republic of China, Japan and Republic of Korea.
In a titah, His Majesty expressed his appreciation to Asean’s friends from the People’s Republic of China, Japan and the Republic of Korea for their continuous support to Asean Plus Three (APT) Cooperation.
According to His Majesty, since it was initiated, the APT process has evolved into a very useful and comprehensive mechanism.
“Whilst the initial focus then was to ensure economic recovery and financial stability, the APT cooperation now covers many areas involving various sectors and levels,” His Majesty said.
“All these efforts have ensured that the Southeast Asian region continues to remain dynamic and forward-looking. The concrete steps APT has taken through the Chiang Mai Initiative, and our Emergency Rice Reserve, illustrates APT’s commitment to take real actions in addressing issues that directly affect its people.”
According to His Majesty, APT faced a new pandemic threat this year that has resulted in the loss of thousands of lives in Africa.
His Majesty believes that the APT could also contribute towards addressing this issue. This is where building on the experiences of SARS and H1N1, APT should work together, to prevent the Ebola virus from spreading into the Southeast Asia region, added the ruler.
His Majesty took note that Asean very much appreciated the support given by the Plus Three friends in Asean’s work to realise the Asean Community, and hoped this support will continue into the future.
His Majesty also touched on three areas of importance for APT to work on together.
Firstly, His Majesty took note that climate change is one of the major challenges that is affecting most parts of the world and has threatened the lives of many people.
His Majesty believes that this issue could be addressed in an effective and comprehensive manner by sharing information, expertise and undertaking joint research.
According to His Majesty, Brunei is committed to playing its part in addressing this global problem. The Sultanate has also taken various initiatives such as educating the public on the responsible use of limited resources and protecting the environment.
At the same time, Brunei is working closely with Malaysia and Indonesia through the Heart of Borneo initiative, where the Sultanate has allocated more than half of its land area to this project for conservation.
His Majesty also believes that this is in line with one of the recommendations of the vision group on advancing our forest cooperation in addressing climate change.
Secondly, His Majesty noted that APT trade and investments are continuing to see positive growth. Asean’s respective Asean Plus One FTAs act as building blocks for such cooperation, and His Majesty believes that APT can enhance this further by deepening not only liberalisation but also commitments to facilitate trade.
His Majesty believes that APT’s private sector, especially Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), should benefit and take full advantage of existing and future regional trade arrangements.
Asean, His Majesty added, also hopes to continue working closely to further advance Asean’s economic cooperation, in addition to supporting the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).
His Majesty also welcomed the work undertaken by the Asean Centres in each of the Plus Three countries, and the efforts to strengthen collaboration amongst them.
Thirdly, His Majesty noted that the strength of APT’s cooperation is based on the close ties between the people and that it is important that APT continues to provide them with the environment to nurture these linkages.
This can be done by expanding cooperation in education, particularly in facilitating greater student exchanges and promoting collaboration among the leading universities in the East Asian region, building on the success of the Asean University Network, according to His Majesty.
With these steps, His Majesty said APT’s youth would be able to learn more about one another which can lead to greater trust, understanding and respect for each other’s cultures and traditions.