1 Remarks by H.E.

Kasit Piromya, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Thailand at the Dinner hosted for the Delegates to the 3rd Meeting of the High Level Task Force on ASEAN Connectivity Montatip Room, The Four Seasons Hotel, Bangkok, Thailand 19.00-19.15 hrs, 11 July 2010 -----------------------Excellencies and Distinguished Members of the High Level Task Force on ASEAN Connectivity, Distinguished Representatives from the ASEAN Secretariat, the ERIA, (Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia), the ADB (Asian Development Bank), and the World Bank, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, It is an honour to be here at this dinner to welcome the High Level Task Force on ASEAN Connectivity but I will have to excuse myself later on since I have to go to another engagement. Nevertheless, I would like to share with you some ideas on the issue of connectivity. When the Prime Minister of Thailand proposed the idea of creating a “Community of Connectivity” at the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Phuket almost a year ago, he was looking forward to the day when an investor or tourist, a freight truck or cargo vessel, would be able to travel freely and with minimal impediments, from one corner of ASEAN to another, and ultimately, from other regions to Southeast Asia and vice versa. This vision of an enhanced connectivity received the collective endorsement at the 15th ASEAN Summit in Bangkok, where the Leaders created the High Level Task Force on ASEAN Connectivity to come up with a Master Plan that will help bring this vision to reality by the 17 th ASEAN Summit this year. Under Vietnam’s ASEAN Chairmanship, the goal of building enhanced connectivity has become a strategic priority of ASEAN, a chief catalyst to building a more competitive ASEAN, and a critical component of our efforts to create an ASEAN-centered regional architecture. Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, I wish to take this opportunity to commend representatives of the HLTF as well as those from the ASEAN Secretariat, ERIA, ADB, UNESCAP, and the World Bank, for all their hard work in translating this idea into reality by drafting a Master Plan. Much work lies ahead and we have limited time with the next Summit only some three months away.

2 As we work towards this goal, I would like to leave with you some thoughts that I hope will help facilitate the completion of this important task before you. First, enhanced ASEAN connectivity has significance only if all ASEAN Member States and indeed all citizens of our organization feel that they are stakeholders in it. This means that enhanced connectivity must benefit all and leave no country or individuals in the margins. Therefore, connectivity must be comprehensive, involving sea, air, and land links, backed up by institutional connectivity, as well as people-to-people connectivity. Indeed, connectivity must also lead to economic progress of Member States and the economic empowerment of communities and peoples throughout ASEAN. Only then can connectivity contribute meaningfully to the building of a more competitive and resilient ASEAN Community. Second, enhanced connectivity, even just within our region, cannot be achieved by ASEAN alone. ASEAN’s success owes in large part to our being open and outward-looking. We therefore need to solicit and sustain the active engagement of our Dialogue Partners and external parties. As we finalize the Master Plan, I hope that we always bear in mind how various aspects of it could be linked and reinforced by the cooperation of our friends outside the region. The success of ASEAN Connectivity will depend on creating a partnership now, not after the Master Plan is completed, between ASEAN and our external partners. This is not only because we need their financial and technical cooperation but also because ASEAN Connectivity is just the first step towards a much larger enterprise, and that is to create connectivity across the Asia-Pacific region, linking ASEAN with East Asia, South Asia and beyond. Only when we are connected throughout the Asia-Pacific region, and indeed with the globalized world, will enhanced ASEAN connectivity achieve its true potential. Third, with every silver lining, there is a dark cloud. With easier connections between countries comes cross border challenges, be they transnational crimes, pollution or pandemics. There will always be those who will seek to abuse enhanced connectivity. It is not only our task but also our responsibility to safeguard the region from these negative effects of connectivity. I therefore hope that this Master Plan will have built within it the necessary safeguards to protect ASEAN citizens throughout the region from these threats to human security, so that we can have not only a well connected ASEAN Community with secure supply chains to sustain our economic progress but one that is safe for our peoples.

3 Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, All of us have a role to play in promoting the connectivity agenda. During the past two months, I have been pursuing this important ASEAN agenda in my various visits outside the region. I have been travelling to Nairobi, Paris, Vienna, amongst others. In these various places, I have promoted the idea of enhanced ASEAN connectivity in my conversations with policymakers and experts, and have listened to their ideas on how to achieve best it. In Nairobi, I had the chance to visit the UNDP and HABITAT and discussed the role of clean energy in promoting connectivity that is sustainable. In Paris, I met my French counterpart as well as the senior management of the OECD and UNESCO. The OECD informed me that it is undertaking an economic analysis of Southeast Asia, to determine how resilient and competitive we are as a region. I therefore took the opportunity to seek assistance from the OECD on ASEAN’s efforts to enhance connectivity. In Brussels, I had the opportunity to discuss matters with the European Commission who conveyed to me that the EU had gone through periods of difficulties dealing with cross border challenges but have now developed a system to deal with them. Their experience should be relevant and useful for ASEAN. In Vienna, I met with key officials of UNIDO and the IAEA. UNIDO emphasized the importance of pursuing clean energy as a component of promoting connectivity while the IAEA expressed interest on the issue of electrification of Southeast Asia which is an important element of energy connectivity. Furthermore, the IAEA has a role to play in food safety and can help ASEAN in this regard. Such assistance would be beneficial for Southeast Asia as an exporter of food. In Beijing which I visited to celebrate the 35 th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Thailand and China, I met China’s Foreign Minister and discussed the connectivity issue. ASEAN and China have to work closely together to promote regional connectivity, particularly the important road links and economic corridors linking the two partners. In addition to China, ASEAN’s connectivity should extend to Siberia in Russia, Mongolia, the Korean Peninsula and Japan. A couple of months ago, I had the chance to discuss connectivity with India’s Foreign Minister. I learned that India is making a major investment through its road building programme, involving some 7,000 kilometers of roads, in order to improve its own domestic connectivity. From these visits, I have increasingly come to realize that the main efforts will have to be undertaken by ourselves.

4 We as a region and as an organization have to do more. The responsibility is ultimately ours to work hard and to put all the different pieces together in order to realize enhanced ASEAN connectivity. These involve individual as well as collective efforts. As for individual efforts, in Thailand’s case, for example, a significant portion of the 2nd Stimulus Package is geared towards domestic infrastructure development. Assistance in this regard has been received from institutions such as the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank as well as JBIC. We are building roads to the Thai-Myanmar border which will eventually link up with Tavoy port, thus opening an economic corridor to the Andaman Sea. We are also working with China and the ADB respectively on the 3 rd and 4 bridges across the Mekong River, the work of which is continuing as we speak. There is a pending road project to link Thailand and Cambodia which should go ahead.
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Regionally and collectively, we should continue to pursue the ASEAN Infrastructure Fund. ASEAN should also explore the modalities for encouraging the participation of the region’s private sector, including through the development of consortiums, in order to support ASEAN’s work on connectivity. We also have to ensure that there is connectivity between mainland and archipelagic Southeast Asia, through effective sea and air links with Indonesia, the Philippines and Brunei Darussalam. In the international arena, there is both a will and the availability of resources from our external partners to support our efforts to realize connectivity. We should therefore have a clear plan amongst ourselves, work hard to implement it and see how we can engage external parties to assist us in this task. Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, The task before you and the promise that it brings are of no less significance than the key building blocs of our emerging ASEAN Community laid by our predecessors in the past. I am confident that you can meet this challenge. On the part of the Royal Thai Government, we therefore extend our full support to the HLTF as you, collectively and individually, seek to realize the vision of a more connected, a more competitive and a more caring ASEAN Community. I wish you much success in your noble endeavours. Thank you.

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