Thai-led bloc 'in good shape' to face future turmoil

Thai-led bloc 'in good shape' to face future turmoil

Thailand's guidance of the Asean Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP) has been hailed as a historic achievement, according to the Foreign Ministry, as its year-long Asean chairmanship comes to an end.

Thailand's contributions, including the adoption of the AOIP blueprint at the 34th Asean Summit in June, have strengthened regional architecture with the bloc at its centre, Suriya Chindawongse, the director-general of the Department of Asean Affairs, told a press conference on Monday.

"The AOIP took about two years to develop in close partnership with Indonesia, Thailand and others. But in the end, it is the by-product of all 10 countries. We now have an outlook that seeks to build bridges among various strategies in the region. It is an inclusive approach of win-win cooperation.

"In addition, we are promoting its synergies with the East Asia Summit [EAS], the Asean Plus Three, the Asean Regional Forum, and the Asean Defence Ministers' Meeting Plus, to ensure sustainable security and economic growth," he said.

Mr Suriya said Asean chair Thailand's commitment to sustainable development, embodied in the theme "Advancing Partnership for Sustainability", has gained traction among member states and dialogue partners.

"We offer a new paradigm which seeks to avoid actions that will have negative consequences in the future. For instance, Asean has reached a consensus on climate change in Madrid and New York for the first time. EAS leaders, including China and the US, also affirmed their commitment to advancing sustainability. The bloc also launched the Bangkok Declaration on Combating Marine Debris. All of these show that sustainability is a new strategy for Asean," he said.

Asked about the greatest challenge Thailand faced in its Asean tenure, Mr Suriya said taking policies forward had been a big concern for all chairs.

"In view of this challenge of ensuring continuity, Thailand decided to establish seven Asean centres here. They are designed to carry the initiatives forward when our chairmanship ends," he said.

Meanwhile, Auramon Sup- thaweethum, director-general of the Department of Trade Negotiations, said the Commerce Ministry has achieved all the economic "deliverables" aimed at preparing the bloc for an uncertain future.

"We have succeeded in clearing trade hurdles and cushioning the economic slowdown. Among highlights are the conclusion of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership talks. We managed to hammer out 13 chapters as chair, meaning the 20-chapter pact will be signed under Vietnam's chairmanship next year," she said.

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