Prayut hopes ACD opens new chapter of prosperity 

Prayut hopes ACD opens new chapter of prosperity 

Gen Prayut addresses the ACD meeting on Thursday. (Post Today photo)
Gen Prayut addresses the ACD meeting on Thursday. (Post Today photo)

Today, we embarked on another historic step of the Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD). You may recall the 1st ACD Ministerial Meeting hosted by Thailand in Cha-am 14 years ago, where the 17 Asian countries agreed to launch the ACD process, based on the principle that the ACD should provide a platform for ministers and leaders to exchange views in a friendly and creative context and build confidence among all participants. As ACD chair, I would like to welcome Nepal as the 34th ACD member state and believe that Nepal's potential would make the ACD stronger and further enhance our international profile.

Under the context of growth and challenges of Asia, today's meeting is crucial for member states to shape a concrete vision and direction for future cooperation of the ACD. With our shared aspirations, the meeting provides a good opportunity to work together to find solutions to the challenges that face Asia.

The theme of this Meeting, "ACD-The Way Forward," is Thailand's objective as the ACD chair and coordinator. The time has come for ACD member states to review past challenges in boosting the momentum of the ACD. We should plan new strategies to move forward and enhance the ACD's internal mechanisms by laying a more solid and progressive foundation for the ACD as follows:

First, it is imperative that we collectively draft a clear vision for the ACD to set our common targets and policies in moving the Asian region forward in a concrete manner. Despite our diverse values and cultures, I am positive that we all want to see an Asian community that achieves a balance between economic growth and social progress, underpinned by inclusive and sustainable development. But we cannot do it alone. Only a concerted effort of the ACD members will convert these ideas into reality.

Second, to harness the maximum potential of ACD members, regional connectivity should be one of our core values. Therefore, our top priorities should focus on expediting infrastructure development for regional transportation, especially land, air and water transport as well as strengthening rules and regulations to facilitate a smoother flow of goods and people.

Our ACD region consists of 4.3 billion people which contribute to a total GDP of US$26 trillion. These figures indicate that all 34 ACD member states combined into one entity would be the centre of labour supply, raw materials, and a production base propelling the economy of Asia and the world. We need to deepen regional economic integration supported by multidimensional connectivity to reap the full benefits for our peoples and region.

Third, our ACD vision for Asian cooperation would therefore require a special focus on promoting inclusive and sustainable development in Asia, in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, through the sharing of knowledge, science, technology and innovation as well as local wisdom and knowledge of each ACD member. It is a great privilege for Thailand to share the knowledge of the Sufficiency Economy Philosophy (SEP) of His Majesty the King, an alternative approach to inclusive and sustainable development, which could be practised in various dimensions and sectors, emphasising three core elements: practicality, moderation and resilience.

Fourth, the ACD needs to enhance its mechanism by prioritising and consolidating the existing 20 areas of cooperation. Thailand wishes to propose six priority pillars, namely (1) Connectivity; (2) Science, Technology and Innovation; (3) Education and Human Resource Development; (4) Nexus of Food, Energy and Water Security; (5) Tourism and Culture; and, (6) Alternative Approaches to Inclusive and Sustainable Development. It is of paramount importance that future activities under these six pillars be undertaken with a supporting role of the ACD Secretariat.

Let me stress the substantive roles of the private sector and the micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in driving the economy and development in Asia. The promotion of SMEs and private-sector participation should be greatly enhanced and facilitated through an active forum.

In this regard, the ACD Business Forum should be established to help broaden our business networks and encourage further investments.

Thailand also recognises the importance of enhancing academic partnership within the ACD by developing a mechanism that supports the exchange of academic sources as well as strengthening our education, knowledge-based economy and innovation, which will strongly contribute to the human resource development of the region.

I am confident that the 14th ACD Ministerial Meeting will open a new chapter for the regional cooperation and set directives for the 2nd ACD Summit for resilience, shared prosperity, stability and sustainable development of Asia and for the benefit of our peoples.

Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha (Ret) is prime minister of Thailand.

Prayut Chan-o-cha

Prime minister of Thailand

Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha (Ret) is prime minister of Thailand.

Also, a retired Royal Thai Army officer who is the current Prime Minister of Thailand and head of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), a military junta that has the power to control the Prime Minister position.



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