Friday, December 4, 2009

Remarks at the 1st Meeting of the Leaders of ASEAN and the United States of America

Singapore, 15th November 2009

(15:15 – 16:30)

Excellency Chairman,

Your Majesty the Sultan,

Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen!

I would like to join the ASEAN Leaders in extending the warmest welcome to the President of the United States of America, Mr. Barack Obama, to the first historic meeting of the leaders of ASEAN and the United States of America. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Mr. President on the recent Noble Peace Prize. Indeed, under the leadership of Mr. President Barack Obama, the new foreign policy of the United States of America "Engagement Approach" has enabled positive changes in the world politics and security.

Exchange of views on regional and international issues

This meeting has indeed elevated the ASEAN-US Strategic Partnership to a higher level in ensuring peace, stability and prosperity in the region. Cambodia highly appreciates the accession by the United States of America to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC). I would like also to commend the high commitment of the United States of America to the peaceful process of denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula. We hope that the six-party talk will resume in the near future. Cambodia also highly appreciates the joint efforts made by the United States of America and ASEAN in ensuring a free and fair election in Myanmar in 2010.

Global Economic and Financial Crisis

There are indications that the unprecedented and tremendous fiscal and monetary measures implemented by the G20 countries, especially the United States of America, together with the stimulus package implemented in East Asia, have mitigated the impacts of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) and produced positive results, in a coordinated, timely and effective response to the crisis, while avoiding political tensions and social disruption. In this regard, we sincerely congratulate the United States of America for successfully and rapidly coming out of the economic recession during a short period of time. This is a positive sign for the global recovery, which is vital for the Cambodian economy, as well as for countries in the region, as our garment exports rely mainly on the US demand.

Indeed, this current global financial crisis presents opportunity for ASEAN and the United States of America to strengthen its cooperation and deepen regional integration in the areas of finance, trade and investment, agriculture and tourism. In this connection, I would like to welcome new initiatives which aimed to promote cooperation and partnership between ASEAN and the United States under ASEAN-US Trade and Investment Framework Agreement. Cambodia also welcomes the support of the United States of America in building ASEAN Connectivity and narrowing the development gap in ASEAN, especially the support provided by the United States of America to the Mekong countries.

Climate Change, Disaster Management, Food and Energy Security

We all have realized the strong correlation between climate change and natural disasters. We also acknowledge that in order to tackle the issue, we must strike a right balance between socio-economic development and environment protection. It is true that the fight against natural disasters requires close cooperation to strengthen each country’s preparedness and capacity. Furthermore, food security is a long-term and critical issue which requires all countries joint cooperation. The rising of food prices has negatively impacted on the poor and vulnerable group, who has faced food shortages and malnutrition. Nevertheless, this also presents new opportunity for some countries in the region that have high potential in agriculture sector such as Cambodia. As an agricultural country, Cambodia welcomes investment in infrastructure, transfer of technology and technical assistance to boost agricultural productivity.

At the same time, the future demand for energy will increase commensurably with economic growth of countries around the world. The uncertainty of the energy market has made bio-fuels an important area for development. However, the development of bio-fuels requires a right balance between land use for food and bio-fuel production. Furthermore, we need to sufficiently invest in R&D in order to improve the efficiency of energy use as well as the development of clean energy.

Cambodia thinks that the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) should receive reasonable support from developed countries to address these challenges. In this context, Cambodia considers that the United States of America can provide financing, transfer of technology and hard-ware in order to strengthen the capacity in disaster management, the development of clean energy, food security and to tackle other environment issues. In this regard, I would like to request the United States of America to further enhance cooperation on Climate Change, Energy and Food Security, and the Environment which are our common concerns and materialize this cooperation though action plan and its implementation.

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