ASEAN leaders meeting in Cambodian have been called on to ensure the smooth implementation of the ASEAN Community by 2015 through several steps.
The 21st ASEAN Summit and Related Summits was officially opened on Sunday by Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen at the Peace Palace with six priorities to be discussed in order to realize the ASEAN Community by 2015.
“Realizing the ASEAN Community by 2015 should remain our top priority,” he said in his opening speech in Khmer.
“”Timely implementation of programs and plans of actions for building the ASEAN Community through the accomplishment of the three pillars of the ASEAN Community Roadmap, a mid-term review of the implementation of the Initiative for ASEAN Integration [IAI] Work Plan II (2009-2015) and the timely implementation of the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity are urgent matters that need our clear and sincere guidance.”
Hun Sen said ASEAN leaders should encourage all ASEAN ministers concerned to formulate necessary the policies to be implemented before 2015 in key areas such as tariff and non-tariff barriers, investment liberalization, connectivity and transportation, SME development, IAI, mutual recognition arrangements (MRAs) on professional services and labor mobility, institutional building and regulatory reforms and institutional issues for AEC building.
He also called for promoting the implementation of priority projects beneficial to Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV) as well as encouraging the early implementation of the ASEAN Framework for Equitable Economic Development (AFEED).
The second priority would be to continue to exert efforts in finalizing a complete legal framework in line with the ASEAN Charter in order to improve the operational efficiency of ASEAN institutions and processes, according to the English transcript of Hun Sen’s speech.
He continued that early ratification of the protocol on the ASEAN Charter on Dispute Settlement Mechanisms by member countries would help uphold the “culture of compliance” within ASEAN.
He said that maintaining regional peace and security as the third priority is indispensable for ASEAN’s prosperity and inclusive growth in the entire ASEAN region.
The fourth priority would be maintaining ASEAN centrality in the regional architecture and further strengthening cooperation with ASEAN partners at all levels, especially through the ASEAN+1 and ASEAN+3 frameworks based on concrete strategies and action plans on economic cooperation including trade.
The fifth strategy would be strengthening and expanding cooperation among ASEAN sectoral ministers in addressing regional and global challenges, such as financial and economic crisis, climate change, the depletion of natural resources and pandemics.
After the opening ceremony, ASEAN leaders officially launched the ASEAN Institute for Peace and Reconciliation (AIPR) followed by a plenary session in which each leader conveyed his opinion on various issues. The morning session ended with the signing of the Phnom Penh Statement on the Adoption of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration.
The ASEAN Leaders Meeting and the ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ABAC) meeting will be held on Sunday afternoon.
A number of ASEAN summits with dialog partners Japan, South Korea, China, India and the US will be held on Monday, as well as the ASEAN+3 Commemorative Summit.
Three documents are slated to be signed on Monday: the ASEAN Agreement on Movement of Natural Persons, the third protocol to amend the Framework Agreement on Comprehensive Economic Cooperation between ASEAN and China and the protocol to incorporate technical barriers to trade and sanitary and phytosanitary issues into the agreement on trade in goods of the ASEAN-China economic cooperation framework.