Thai PM urges ASEAN, S.Korea to cooperate toward prosperity

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Thailand’s Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva yesterday urged government leaders and business people of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and South Korea to cooperate in a bid to overcome the current global financial crisis and other challenges toward Asia’s prosperity.

In his address to the participants of the ASEAN-Korea CEO Summit on Jeju Island, South Korea, the Thai prime minister, on behalf of ASEAN chair, said many influences which have shaped globalization are now making the world become more competitive and move at a much quicker pace.  

Such change, Abhisit said, has also resulted in the current global economic and financial crisis, considered as the toughest challenge the world is now facing, because countries had underestimated the risks and volatility that came with change.

Although the impact of the crisis is still unfolding and may take some time to assess in its full implications, he said he believed Asia will emerge relatively stronger and the world’s economic dynamism will shift to Asia with East Asia as the hub as the crisis will not dampen but hasten the rise of Asia as the centre of growth and prosperity.
Abhisit said the International Monetary Fund has estimated that worldwide losses in terms of bad loans and securitized assets from the financial crisis would reach US$ 4.1 trillion by the end of next year, and the challenge is how national and international authorities will clean up the problem and bring back sustainable growth.

“We must collaborate, no country can take on these challenges alone. With tremendous worldwide losses, there may have to be a major overhaul in the global financial architecture and financial regulations,” he said.

Financial regulatory standards within and across national borders would have to be strengthened, without affecting our basic market forces or slipping into overregulation. International financial institutions will have to undergo a radical reform and be equipped with sufficient resources to cope with the current crisis and to meet the future challenges, he elaborated.

Regarding the relationship between ASEAN and South Korea, Abhisit said he believed the regional grouping and the East Asian country can form a strategic partnership to realise several important initiatives, such as the ASEAN-Republic of Korea Low-Carbon Green Growth Cooperation and its related East Asia Climate Partnership.

As the ASEAN Economic Community to be realised by 2015, he said, the private sector would be playing a much more active role so South Korean business sector should be able to explore and harness the ample trade and investment opportunities in ASEAN.

With the realization of the East Asia Free Trade Area under the ASEAN Plus Three framework, currently under a Phase II feasibility study led by the Republic of Korea, Abhisit said, the agreement could benefit both Northeast Asian and Southeast Asian economies, especially in terms of production base and trade and investment.

As the ASEAN-Korea CEO Summit marking its 20th anniversary, the Thai premier said,  such dialogue between government leaders and leading business people should be encouraged and supported.

He said, “All sectors of society, public and the private, will have to join hands to overcome the current crisis. Unless we cooperate, we would not be able to meet the challenges of change. So, let us cooperate to elevate ASEAN-Republic of Korea relations to an even higher plane.”

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