Dear Esteemed Citizens,
Today marks 50 years of ASEAN. This is a major milestone for any institution. These five decades have seen significant progress across all of our countries, of which we can be very proud. Today, the 10 ASEAN economies together constitute the seventh-largest economy in the world. This achievement is testament to the hard work and commitment of the ASEAN member nations.
This year marks a major anniversary for Myanmar as well. It was 20 years ago that we joined this extraordinary group of countries. Becoming part of this family of nations was an important moment in our country”s history.
As we celebrate these two landmarks, it is a great pleasure and honour for me to extend my warmest greetings and best wishes to the people of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar.
ASEAN’s founders were visionary leaders who desired a peaceful, stable, and economically prosperous Southeast Asia region for all people. To achieve this goal, these founding fathers sought to create an outward-looking region with vibrant, competitive, and highly-integrated economies and an inclusive community embedded with a strong sense of togetherness and common identity.
Economic and political circumstances have often challenged these aspirations. But ASEAN has always remained faithful to its mission, anchored by the principles of mutual respect, cooperation, and consensus-building. This unique “ASEAN Way” has enabled our region’s unprecedented success.
This success can be measured in many ways.
Southeast Asia has never been more peaceful and stable. Working together as a community of nations, we have collectively resolved the many issues we have faced over these 50 years.
We have achieved substantial economic prosperity as well. Together, with a combined GDP of $2.55 trillion, we make up one of the largest economic blocs in the world. Many of the world’s fastest growing economies can be found in our region. Last year, our collective economy grew by 4.7 percent, a remarkable achievement considering the challenging global environment.
Cultural exchange across our community’s borders has never been higher. Myanmar itself is a diverse and vibrant nation. When joined with the other nine countries of ASEAN, this cultural tapestry becomes even more colourful.
As we look to the next 50 years, we expect that ASEAN’s ties across these areas will only deepen. By remaining true to our principles, we will be the kind of dynamic institution that will succeed in a fast-paced, globalized world. By redoubling our efforts, we will make our region even more politically cohesive, economically integrated, socially responsible, and people-oriented.
With an eye to a vibrant and prosperous future, our leaders have created a plan for the coming years: the ASEAN Community Vision 2025, which was crafted in line with the United Nation’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Part of our community’s growth over the coming years will be through increasing engagement with global partners. Eighty-seven sovereign states and one regional organization have already accredited ambassadors to ASEAN. In return, we have established 52 ASEAN Committees in countries and international organizations. We will continue to expand our engagement so that we can improve the livelihood of ASEAN’s citizens.
We are confident we will see this most immediately through the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, which we expect will be finalized by the end of this year. Once launched, this partnership will account for half of the world’s population and 30 percent of global GDP. This is why we commemorate this anniversary with the theme “Partnering for Change. Engaging the World”.
But we cannot be complacent as we strive for these goals. We face many challenges. The rise, globally and in our region, of populism, anti-globalization, terrorism, violent extremism, and socio-economic uncertainties are the forces we must strive to counteract. To do this, we must redouble our efforts to expedite regional integration with the participation of our people, especially women and youth. Pushing forward with the next phase of consolidation and cohesiveness will make ASEAN a more open, peaceful, inclusive, resilient, and prosperous region.
Myanmar has an active role to play in achieving these goals. We will continue our cooperation in building regional integration and we will fulfil our duties as a responsible and proud member of this regional organization. This commitment must be reflected by every Myanmar citizen because the people of ASEAN are the heart of its past, present, and future success. And so on this auspicious occasion, as we move forward together, I wish all of you every success.
Dear Esteemed Citizens,