(8th August 2016)
Today marks the forty-ninth anniversary of the founding of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) a regional grouping of ten South-East Asian countries. On this auspicious day, I have the pleasure to extend my warmest greetings and best wishes to the people of Myanmar and the peoples of the Member States of ASEAN.
ASEAN, which was founded by five original members forty nine years ago aimed at developing cooperation in the economic, social, cultural, technical, education and other fields, has now become a rules-based ten-member regional organization with its own Charter and legal personality.
ASEAN is making good progress in community building by intensifying its efforts to make the region more politically cohesive, economically integrated and socially responsible.
Like other regional organizations, ASEAN has it internal and external challenges. Notwithstanding these challenges, ASEAN has demonstrated its strength and resilience in addressing issues of common interest and concern.
As we celebrate this special day, I pay tribute to the farsighted leaders of founding member of ASEAN who signed Bangkok Declaration forty nine years ago.
ASEAN Leader announced the establishment of the ASEAN Community on 31th December 2015 and adopted the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and its three Blueprints at the 27th ASEAN Summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia last year. The year 2016 is not only the first year of the ASEAN Community, but also the beginning of process to fulfil the objectives of the ASEAN Community Vision 2025. Myanmar takes pride for its contribution towards the establishment of ASEAN Community during its chairmanship in 2014.
Lao PDR’s ASEAN Chairmanship 2016 takes place at a time ASEAN is strengthening the Community efforts by implementing the ASEAN Community Vision 2025. In this respect, we support Lao PDR’s theme “Turning Vision into Reality for Dynamic ASEAN Community”.
Peace and stability, and socio-economic achievements in the region have elevated ASEAN’s stature in the international arena. ASEAN region has today become the centre of growth in the Asia Pacific region and ASEAN in playing a vital role in maintaining and promoting peace, security and stability and development in the region and beyond.
Over the past years, growth and development in ASEAN member states have contributed greatly in reducing poverty, improving health services, education and access to information, enhancing disaster preparedness, narrowing of development gaps within and among ten-member countries. ASEAN, today with a total population of 625 million and a combined GDP of approximately two and half trillion US dollars, is the third largest economy in Asia and the seventh largest in the world.
Growth and development have also contributed towards enhanced integration of ASEAN. A process that has started with the ASEAN Free Trade Area Agreement in 1992, has now transformed ASEAN to be the only regional grouping that has concluded free trade agreements with all major and middle economies in the world. ASEAN is in the process of negotiating the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), when concluded, will create the biggest single market accounting for half of the world’s population and one third of the world’s GPD.
The ASEAN community that we envision in ten years is an integrated community of a politically cohesive, economically integrated, socially responsible, and a truly people-oriented, people-centred and rules-based ASEAN.
This bold, visionary, progressive and forward-looking vision will be achieved with the concerted efforts and dedication of all stake holders in the ASEAN Community.
As we are striving to build an ASEAN Community where people are bound together in friendship, cooperation, peace, freedom and prosperity, it is incumbent upon every citizen of ASEAN to perform his or her duties well. To enable to fulfill this mission, governments of ASEAN are also creating favourable conditions for their citizen to do their duties. ASEAN’s success will ultimately be judged by its peoples. In this respect, I would like to encourage all of our citizens to support us in the nation building that will contribute towards the success of ASEAN. As this is the first year in the ASEAN following the formation of a new government, I wish to inform our citizens that our commitment to work for the development of the rules-based ASEAN is firm and resolute.
As we will be marking the fiftieth anniversary of ASEAN in the coming year, let us redouble our efforts in ASEAN Community building, and I send best wishes to the peoples of Myanmar and the ASEAN Member States for the continued success and prosperity of ASEAN Community.
(8th August 2016)