Mr. Chairman, Honourable Mr. Don Pramudwinai,
Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Thailand,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
May I join my colleagues and record my appreciation for the warm welcome, generous hospitality and elaborate arrangements made by the Government of the Kingdom of Thailand in hosting this meeting. I would also like to welcome Nepal as the 34th member of ACD.
For decades, Asia has been the most dynamic region of the world. Last year, the global economy’s growth was 3.1 percent, whereas Asia grew at 5.4 percent. The same level of growth is expected this year. It will, therefore, continue to drive the global economy in the coming years. In fact, with several important projects to improve energy and trade connectivity in Asia, prospects for the future are improving at a fast pace and we can now confidently predict that the 21st century belongs to Asia.
While the prospects for economic progress are improving, political and security challenges are also becoming more serious. Unless we overcome them through closer cooperation, we will not realize our full potential.
In this context, Asia Cooperation Dialogue is at a crossroads. As the Concept Paper points out, ACD has yet to realize its potential, a large gulf has appeared between its objectives and achievements in the last fourteen years. We haven’t been able to follow through on some of the commitments we assumed as prime movers and co-prime movers. We need a vision for ACD to turn it into a useful organization, which can offer solutions to problems and challenges that we are not able to tackle individually.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I commend Thailand for coming up with a Concept Paper to present a vision for the organization, which offers us a way forward to meet the objectives of ACD. Pakistan supports the idea of undertaking a more detailed study to evolve a Vision-2030 for ACD and subsequently a Blueprint for adoption at the 2nd ACD Summit.
Pakistan also agrees with the conceptual framework of the Roadmap for Regional Connectivity. We believe that connectivity is of paramount importance in binding us together. Regional connectivity can be greatly facilitated by the communication revolution and the digital highways that are growing rapidly. Pakistan is working on energy connectivity projects like CASA-1000 and TAPI with our Central Asian neighbors. We are also working on China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a flagship project to connect the western parts of China to the Arabian Sea shores of Pakistan. The project will also provide a link between Central Asia and the Middle East.
As the Secretary-General has just emphasized, different member countries in Asia belong to different regional or sub-regional organizations like ASEAN, SAARC, ECO, GCC and SCO. ACD could provide a useful platform for the Chairpersons and Secretary Generals’ of these organizations to share information on their respective achievements, plans and activities. In this way, each regional organization will not only benefit from other’s experience but could also evolve joint projects for cooperation among two or more organizations in certain areas. Such a role will require ACD to follow more closely, the programs and initiatives of Regional and sub-regional organizations in Asia.
Currently, Pakistan is a Prime Mover for Asian Institute for Standards. We are also Co-Prime Movers in Agriculture and Tourism. We are in the process of establishing the Asian Institute of Standards. A progress report in this regard will be soon shared. We have endorsed the Concept Paper on Agriculture, prepared by Kazakhstan. We also stand ready to cooperate on new initiatives in the field of tourism. At the same time, we welcome the decision to reduce the existing twenty areas of cooperation into six, including (i) Connectivity, (ii) Science, Technology and Innovation, (iii) Education and HR development, (iii) Energy, (iv) Food, Energy and Water Security, (v) Tourism and Culture, (vi) Alternative approaches to Inclusive and Sustainable development with the framework of Sustainable Development Goals
I take this opportunity to thank the State of Kuwait for hosting the Provisional Secretariat of ACD and bearing expenses and support its proposal to upgrade the Provisional Secretariat into a Permanent Secretariat.
I thank you all.
Last modified: November 18, 2019
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