Asean ready to work with all for prosperity: Prayut

Asean ready to work with all for prosperity: Prayut

Prime Minister Prayut Cha-o-cha invites other Asean leaders for pose for group photos to kick off their summit on Sunday. (Photo by Patipat Janthong)
Prime Minister Prayut Cha-o-cha invites other Asean leaders for pose for group photos to kick off their summit on Sunday. (Photo by Patipat Janthong)

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has pledged that Asean will continue to be “a friend to all, enemy to none” by seeking to boost sustainable security and economic growth.

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the 35th Asean Summit and Related Summits on Sunday, Gen Prayut stressed that the forum demonstrates the partnership between Asean and its partners amid global uncertainties, including the worst economic slowdown in a decade and rising geostrategic competition.

“[It is] a true coming together to take forward the outcome of the last Asean summit [in June] and craft a collective approach based on the centrality and strength of Asean in being a friend to all and enemy to none, addressing regional and global challenges as well as promoting sustainability in all dimensions,” he said.

Gen Prayut urged the bloc to create an environment conducive to peace and stability by enhancing strategic trust to reduce confrontation and respect rules and norms.

“[We want to] make use of existing Asean instruments, for example by applying the core principle of the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC) to the wider region beyond Asean. In this regard, we are pleased to welcome new contracting parties to the TAC, which reflects the recognition given by external countries to the fundamental principle of rules and norms for cooperation in the region,” he said.

In addition, Gen Prayut reiterated the bloc’s commitment to negotiating the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea with China while holding joint naval exercises with the United States. 

He also encouraged the bloc to develop mechanisms for the settlement of trade disputes and promote regional architecture based on the centrality of Asean “whether that be the East Asia Summit, the Asean Plus Three, the Asean Regional Forum, or other entities that enable dialogue between partners”.

On sustainable economic growth, the premier asserted the bloc’s continued support for the conclusion of the 16-country Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) by the end of the year. RCEP would be the world’s largest economic bloc.

“We should also continue to support the multilateral trading system under the World Trade Organisation as well as regional and subregional economic bodies, including ACMECS and the Greater Bay Area, to enhance the economic resilience of Asean,” he said.

He also urged the bloc to move towards a seamless Asean through a "connecting the connections" approach within Asean and beyond while ensuring environmental protection to minimise marine and air pollution.

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