Connectivity crucial for economic growth: Minister

|     James Kon     |

CONNECTIVITY will enable ASEAN to achieve competitive economic growth and increase greater opportunities for investment, trade and employment, said Minister of Development Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Suhaimi bin Haji Gafar.

The minister made these comments in his keynote address during the 7th ASEAN Connectivity Forum, held at the ASEAN-Korea Centre in Seoul on July 9-10.

In his speech outlining the importance of ASEAN con-nectivity and implementation challenges in achieving regional connectivity, the minister highlighted that in the process of development for greater connectivity, ASEAN faces challenges such as a shortage of semi-skilled and skilled workforce with limited mobility within the region.

He also added that limitation in funding resources, human capacity, the increasing effects of climate change and risk of cyber-security, combined with advancements in information technology and the ‘Internet of Things’, are challenges that ASEAN would need to address with multi-dimensional policies frameworks and strategies.

The forum, first held in 2013, serves as a useful platform in deepening collaboration on connectivity-related infrastruc-ture initiatives between ASEAN and Korean business communities.

Minister of Development Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Suhaimi bin Haji Gafar in a group photo with other officials during the 7th ASEAN Connectivity Forum. – MINISTRY OF DEVELOPMENT

Since 2016, there has been a steady 15.9 per cent increase in annual trading activities, marking Korea the third largest investment destination and second largest trading partner for ASEAN.

As co-organisers of the forum, the Korean Chambers of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) and the Construction Association of Korea (CAK) has lent credence by organising business-related meetings solely focussed on exploring potential areas of cooperation that can be jointly ventured together.

Korea has expressed support for the rolling pipeline projects under the Masterplan on ASEAN Connectivity (MPAC) 2025, in enhancing a seamless regional connectivity. The ASEAN-ROK Commemorative Summit and the Mekong-ROK Summit scheduled for November this year celebrates the 30th anniversary of relations and continues to underscore a fruitful and comprehensive regional partnership.

Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Suhaimi, accompanied by senior officials from the Ministry of Development, also attended various presentations on national development strategies and experiences on energy, smart cities and connectivity by the forum participants.

On the sidelines of the forum, the minister also received courtesy calls from officials of two companies – IPP Development Team of Hyundai Heavy Industries Co Ltd and GS Engineering and Construction Company Ltd – to discuss construction industry trends in Brunei Darussalam and to exchange information on capacity (best practices), in addition to the worldwide engineering experiences of Korean companies.