(8 August 2020)
Today marks the 53rd Anniversary of the founding of ASEAN. On this auspicious occasion, I take a great pleasure in extending my warmest greetings and best wishes to our fellow citizens and to the peoples of the ASEAN Member States. Commemorating ASEAN Day is an opportunity for us to reflect our achievements on how far we have reached in the regional transition to become one community that is dynamic, inclusive, rules-based, people-oriented, and people-centred.
A regional grouping of ten diverse nations from Southeast Asian region is striving for regional peace, prosperity and stability with the spirit of amity and cooperation. Collective strength of ASEAN is enhanced to become politically cohesive, economically integrated and socially responsible community in effectively responding to current and future challenges and in enhancing the opportunities as enshrined in the ASEAN Charter.
The theme of this year’s Chairmanship “Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN” is highly relevant to the needs of today as ASEAN has been tested its resilience and responsiveness amidst the unprecedented challenges posed by the outbreak of COVID-19 and unsettled regional hotspot issues.
ASEAN identity is created by the “unity in diversity”. The Association today is a politically stable, economically viable and people-oriented community. Continued success of ASEAN is also attracting interest from a growing number of countries to engage and establish formal partnership with ASEAN. While strengthening cooperation with Dialogue Partners and other external parties, ASEAN underscores the importance of fostering ASEAN unity and ASEAN centrality in the evolving regional architecture.
In maintaining peace and stability in the region and beyond, the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC) remains a key instrument for the conduct of inter-state relations. The growing number of interested parties to the TAC demonstrates that ASEAN’s norms and values are increasingly embraced by non-ASEAN countries. ASEAN promotes its regional actions by synchronizing the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and the UN 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development.
This year also marks a milestone for ASEAN as it reaches mid-term of the implementation of the ASEAN Community Vision 2025. ASEAN is making significant economic progress leading to fourth largest single market by 2030. ASEAN possesses the world’s third largest labour forces providing a greater opportunity for trade, investment and regional prosperity.
Despite many achievements in community building efforts, ASEAN today faces many unprecedented challenges posed by the outbreak of COVID-19. Notwithstanding, ASEAN has been able to demonstrate the spirit of cohesiveness and responsiveness in addressing the global pandemic and mitigating its socio-economic impacts. ASEAN has been working to operationalize the COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund and ASEAN Regional Reserve of Medical Supplies and, to develop the ASEAN Standard Operating Procedures for Public Health Emergencies.
ASEAN is also undertaking closer policy coordination to restore growth by sustaining market stability. As COVID-19 has brought about a faster shift to digital technology and digital economy, ASEAN is fostering greater cooperation in digital transformation, particularly the digital economy.
ASEAN today is accelerating its efforts with a whole-of-community approach ensuring no one left behind in the community building. Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI) plays an important role in narrowing the development gap among ASEAN Member States. Myanmar, as the Chair of the IAI Task Force for this year, is leading the formulation of the new IAI Work Plan of the next five years (2021-2025).
More integrated ASEAN Economic Community is also expected to bring greater opportunities to Myanmar in terms of inter-regional export market, investment and trade and thus creating more jobs and better life for peoples in our region and beyond.
On this auspicious occasion, I wish the peoples of Myanmar and the peoples of ASEAN Member States every success and progress in the ASEAN Community Building efforts and socio-economic development to contribute towards peace, stability and prosperity in the region and beyond.