Cambodia's Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn speaks at a press conference at the 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Phnom Penh on Aug 6, 2022. (TANG CHHIN SOTHY / AFP)
PHNOM PENH – Cambodian Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn has emphasized the need to enhance ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) connectivity, saying that a well-connected region is crucial to building an inclusive, sustainable and resilient ASEAN Community.
Sokhonn made the remarks during the 13th ASEAN Connectivity Symposium in Phnom Penh, according to a press statement released late on Monday.
Over 160 participants, including ASEAN Connectivity Coordinating Committee (ACCC) members, representatives from ASEAN sectoral bodies, dialogue partners and other external partners, multilateral organizations, and the private sector, took part in the event.
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"The future of this region will depend on our regional competitiveness, which can only come from a well-connected region that acts in unison," said the Cambodian minister.
"Our regional supply chains need to remain efficient and resilient, and ASEAN has to engage with her development partners to initiate various connectivity initiatives and cooperation projects all across our region," he added.
The future of this region will depend on our regional competitiveness, which can only come from a well-connected region that acts in unison.
Prak Sokhonn, Foreign Minister, Cambodia
He said for ASEAN, the approach is about getting maximum synergy from all the various existing connectivity initiatives to extract the necessary value added.
Sokhonn, who is also a Cambodian deputy prime minister, also underlined that the entry into force of the mega free trade Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) will drive the region's economy.
At the event, ASEAN Secretary-General Lim Jock Hoi highlighted the need for ASEAN to be resilient, adaptable, and responsive to ever-changing needs.
"While we continue to plan for the future, we need to build a dynamic link between thinking about the future and taking actions in the present," he said.
He further shared that ASEAN must work with all partners in the short, medium, and long term, and demonstrate that the resources they invested in the region will benefit them as much as it benefits ASEAN.
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Hidetoshi Nishimura, president of the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA), accentuated the importance of digital connection in the implementation of the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity (MPAC) 2025.
He made a reference to ERIA's work on the Comprehensive Asia Development Plan (CADP) 3.0, which highlights strategies for establishing a more integrated, innovative, inclusive and sustainable economy in ASEAN and East Asia by promoting physical and digital connectivity in the region.
"I am highly confident that this CADP 3.0 will contribute to deepening ASEAN's connectivity beyond 2025," he said.
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ASEAN groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.