Statement of Her Excellency Ms. Yingluck Shinawatra Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand at the Opening Ceremony of the 1st Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) Summit at Kuwait City
on 17 October 2012
Your Highness the Amir of the State of Kuwait,
Your Highnesses, Excellencies,
On behalf of the delegation of the Kingdom of Thailand, allow me to express our sincere appreciation to His Highness the Amir of the State of Kuwait for the generous hospitality extended to my delegation. As Coordinator of the Asia
Cooperation Dialogue (ACD), Thailand wishes to congratulate His Highness the Amir in organizing this historic 1st ACD Summit here in Kuwait. I also welcome the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan as the latest member country of the ACD.
We are living in a time of great change and challenge. The crisis in the Eurozone and difficulties in other developed economies have affected global growth. The IMF recently revised downward the forecasts for the world GDP this year to 3.3 percent. The IMF also expects that the volume of global trade will decline to 3.2 percent this year, from 5.8 percent last year.
So Asia needs to quickly act together, in order to maintain growth in times of global economic difficulties. And the ACD, as the only framework that brings together all sub-regional groupings of Asia, will be the key to help promote this cooperation.
So today, here in Kuwait, we have the opportunity to work together to maintain growth rates in our region and contribute to sustainable growth for the world. Equally important, we must also ensure that there is greater distribution of wealth to help address important issues of poverty. To achieve this, we must continue to trade and invest with each other as well as with the developed economies. In particular, the recovery of the Eurozone is in our interests. So we need to sustain our economic links with them to ensure growth and create jobs for all.
That is why this ACD Summit is both important and timely. It gives us the opportunity to send a message, that during times of economic downturn, the Asian region is committed to enhanced cooperation to promote trade and investment within Asia and the rest of the world.
There are several ways in which the ACD can help the Asian countries achieve this important goal.
First, enhanced connectivity across the Asian region and beyond will promote greater trade and investment within Asia and other regions. Connectivity, in terms of better network of transport and infrastructure, supported by similar regulations on cross-border transport, will promote better flows for trade and investment. Building on the Trans Asian Highway and the Trans-Siberian railway, connectivity can help integrate our diverse region.
Indeed, Pan-Asian connectivity can create a “New Silk Route” for Asia that can bring greater prosperity to all of us. To realize this, we will also need to explore how we can together mobilize the funds to finance infrastructure development.
But connectivity must also include greater links among peoples and sharing of ideas through cooperation and mutual respect. This will not only help promote respect for diversity but also support existing ACD cooperation in the twenty areas of shared interest, including finance, tourism and human resources development.
So I propose that we encourage our Ministers and officials to come up with a “Blueprint for ACD Regional Connectivity”. This should include assessment of the current state of the region’s connectivity, highlighting missing links that need investment and provide practical recommendations.
Another area where the ACD can promote greater cooperation is food security. It has been estimated that the world population will reach 9 billion within 20 years. This increases the threat to world food security.
Thailand, as a major food producing country, recognizes that we have an important role to play in this issue. We have introduced “Kitchen to the World” strategy to help support food security. We are seeking partners in the ACD and beyond to help us produce to export food and agricultural products, including Halal food, to the world.
At the same time, we are also prepared to discuss how to enhance food security within the ACD, building on our experience within ASEAN and the ASEAN Plus Three on emergency rice reserves. We can also exchange ideas on technologies and practices that improve post harvest management and logistics in order to reduce food waste.
Closely linked to food security is energy security, another area where the Asian region has great strength. Affordable and stable energy supply affects all stages of food production, from growing to post-harvest management to logistics. Therefore, energy security is vital to affordable food supply for all.
The ACD needs to promote greater dialogue on the issue of food and energy security. Such a dialogue could also focus on finding supplementary energy to support sustainable development.
To take forward the ACD agenda in this time of change, however, there needs to be a more structured ACD process. In this connection, I am pleased to announce that Thailand, as ACD coordinator, is prepared to host annual consultations between the past, present and future chairs of the ACD. This will enable more effective follow-up and forward planning.
Thailand also proposes that we consider establishing an ACD Secretariat to ensure continuity in the ACD process. A meeting should be held to come up with recommendations on this matter at the next Ministerial Meeting in 2013.
Lastly, inspired by Kuwait’s example and seeing the importance of high level political support, Thailand proposes that ACD Summits be held once every few years, because the ACD is the only venue where all sub-regions of Asia are represented and where we can work together to strengthen our region.
To this end, Thailand is ready to host the next ACD Summit in 2015, the year that ASEAN becomes a Community, to help the ACD achieve its full potential. Thailand will continue to work closely with all ACD countries to attain this shared goal.