THE Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) must step up its efforts in doubling intra-Asean trade by 2025 and to conclude the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) as soon as possible.
Delivering a titah during the Plenary Session of the 31st Asean Summit and Related Summits at the Philippines International Convention Center (PICC) yesterday, His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam welcomed the projection that Asean is expected to be the world’s fourth largest economy by 2030.
“Asean must strive together to strengthen Asean Community Building process in order to secure an open, inclusive and peaceful region.”
Only by doing so, Asean can be assured of its success for generations to come, the monarch added.
His Majesty also stated that Asean had made remarkable progress over the years especially in contributing to regional peace and stability and promoting economic growth. “It is important for Asean to build on its achievements by prioritising the integration efforts through the Asean Economic Community.”
The monarch further called on Asean to quickly respond to the onset of the fourth industrial revolution by enhancing the region’s readiness to reap its benefits especially with regard to the digital economy, which is projected to increase the regional market for e-commerce from $30 billion in 2016 to $200 billion in 2025.
In view of the wide ranging impact of the digital economy, His Majesty also called for Asean member states to work on appropriate policy responses in wide ranging areas. In addition, His Majesty underscored the importance of deepening Asean’s relations with its dialogue partners to further promote regional peace and security.
His Majesty applauded the strong friendship, trust, confidence and close coope-ration shared by all Asean member states. Such ties form the cornerstone of Asean’s community building agenda, the monarch added.
As a way of further promoting solidarity among the Asean people, His Majesty announced that Brunei Darussalam will provide 50 scholarships in enhancing professional communication skills, for nationals from Asean member states over the next five years.
During the Plenary Session, Asean leaders also agreed to appoint Dato Paduka Lim Jock Hoi, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Brunei Darussalam as the new Secretary-General of Asean for a five-year term from 2018-2022.
Prior to the Plenary Session, His Majesty attended the opening ceremony of the 31st Asean Summit and Related Summits at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) along with other Asean heads of state and government; dialogue partners; the Secretary-General of Asean and the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
Upon arrival at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, His Majesty was greeted by Robert Borje, Chief of Protocol of the Presidential Palace of the Republic of the Philippines.
The monarch was then officially welcomed by Rodrigo Roa Duterte, President of the Republic of the Philippines and Chairman of Asean, and Cielito Avancena.
His Majesty then proceeded to join other leaders for the opening ceremony.
Upon entering the Nicanor Abelardo Hall, His Majesty along with other Asean heads of state and government; dialogue partners; the Secretary-General of Asean and the Secretary-General of the United Nations were invited to proceed to the stage for the official Asean family photo.
At the opening ceremony, President Duterte made an opening statement in which he welcomed the Asean heads of state and government; dialogue partners; the Secretary-General of Asean and the Secretary-General of the United Nations to the Summit. The ceremony was also graced with colourful performances, the Asean anthem and the Philippine chairmanship song.
After the ceremony, His Majesty together with the Asean heads of state and government attended the Plenary Session of the 31st Asean Summit which was held at the Philippines International Convention Center (PICC).
The Plenary Session began with opening remarks by President Duterte in which he welcomed the Asean heads of state and government as well as the Asean Secretary-General.