Friday, December 4, 2009

Speeches Delivered by Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo during the Trip to Japan for the First Mekong-Japan Summit

[A] Remark at the Opening Ceremony of First Mekong-Japan Summit

Tokyo, Japan, 6th November 2009

(Session 1: 17h30 -19h00)

Your Excellency Chairman,

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen!

I feel utmost privileged to attend this first Mekong-Japan Summit in Tokyo. I would like to express our deep gratitude to H.E. Yukio Hatoyama for the warmest hospitality provided to my delegation and for the excellent arrangements of this meeting.

On this occasion, I highly appreciate H.E. Yukio Hatoyama for giving special priority to declaring the formal partnership between the Mekong region and Japan through this important summit in Tokyo, while His Excellency had just recently assumed the premiership. This is clearly an evidence of no change in the priority of Japan’s foreign and international cooperation policy toward East Asia and ASEAN, and especially, the Mekong region. Thus I would like to join Mekong leaders to once again congratulate H.E. Yukio Hatoyama for his new role as Prime Minister of Japan and Chair of this first ever summit.

I highly appreciate Japan’s important role, as a leading development partner, in promoting development and contributing to strengthened peace and stability in the region. Over the past several years, we note that the relations and cooperation in all areas between Mekong countries and Japan have been progressing remarkably. Thus, I would like to welcome the successful outcomes in implementing the initiatives launched in the past such as the “Japan-Mekong Partnership Program 2007-2009” and the “Mekong-Japan Exchange Year 2009”.

I wish to indicate that the Mekong-Japan Exchange Year 2009 has realized many exchange activities in a range of sectors including politics, economy, culture and tourism. Undoubtedly, the achievement of the Exchange Year has ensured this first Mekong-Japan Summit, which is being convened in the last year of “Japan-Mekong Region Partnership Program”, and is flipping a new page for the first critical step of Mekong-Japan fundamental cooperation framework in the spirit of “Together toward the future”.

Moreover, I would like to welcome the success of the first Mekong-Japan Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Tokyo in 2008 and the second Mekong-Japan Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Siem Reap in 2009, which established important foundations for this first Mekong-Japan Summit.

Finally, I wish our dialogue in this two-day summit be successful and fruitful for our cooperative efforts to build an open, peaceful and prosperous Mekong region, and for ensuring stronger collaboration of mutual benefits between Japan and Mekong region while actively contributing to the efforts of ASEAN integration over the short to medium term and that of East Asia over the long rum./.

[B] Remark at the First Mekong-Japan Summit: Promoting Comprehensive Development in the Mekong Region”

Tokyo, Japan, 6th November 2009

(Session 1: 17h30 -19h00)

Your Excellency Chairman,

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen!

Cambodia has been taking a longer view about development in the Mekong region that encompasses social, economic and political aspects. In this sense, regional integration and sustainability are key success factors, and it should aim at reducing the development gaps among member states by taking into consideration of social and environmental implications in order to build a sustainable and harmonized regional community.

So far, I have noted that Mekong region countries and Japan have been making remarkable progress in many areas by implementing programmes within regional and bilateral frameworks. Indeed, Japan had played an important role in successfully promoting growth and prosperity in ASEAN countries during 1980s, and Japan is now playing its new role in 21st century in maintaining peace, stability and economic growth and sustainability in the Mekong region by bringing in investment, technology, knowledge and know-how which are undeniably even more critical.

Living in the era of globalization and fully acknowledging the importance of regional integration, we have established quite a number of regional initiatives under multilateral and bilateral frameworks. In this regard, we must ensure that adding this new framework will complement and make existing frameworks more comprehensive in order to sustain regional peace, stability and prosperity.

At the same time, I am of the view that the development of infrastructure in the East-West Economic Corridor and Southern Economic Corridor, which are comprehensive projects aiming at linking key transport networks as well as cross-border trade between Mekong region countries, will definitely contribute to economic growth, reducing development gap and promoting broader integration of the region as a whole. All these will promote deeper enforcement of Cross-Border Trade Agreement (CBTA) and become a mechanism to make public private partnership more efficient and effective. Thus, I would like to request the summit to pay more attention to materializing this vision because these development works have not been fully implemented. Particularly, infrastructure such as bridges, roads and other physical infrastructures of Southern Economic Corridor including in Cambodia have not been fully developed. Thus, the first Mekong Japan Summit should focus on and guide the dialogue to work out financing arrangements for priority development projects though they require huge investments. Taking this opportunity, on behalf of Cambodian people, I am very pleased with Japan’s pledge to financing the construction of Neak Leung Bridge. I strongly believe that Japan will consider starting this project very soon, given its strategic importance in linking Southern Economic Corridor.

Based on the cooperation framework laid out, we will be able to transform the “Mekong-Japan Exchange Year 2009” into a key mechanism for the promotion of exchange and mutual understanding of culture of each country.

Moreover, Cambodia strongly believes that the first Mekong Japan Summit, along with the Agreement on Liberalization, Promotion and Protection of Investment between Japan and the Kingdom of Cambodia, which already made into effect, will pave ways and provide business opportunities to and trust among Japanese investors to make more investments in Cambodia./.

[C] Remarks at the Mekong-Japan Summit Meeting

November 7, 2009

(Session 2: 09:00-10:30)

Your Excellency Chairman,

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen!

I would like to reiterate my heartfelt thanks and congratulation to the Government of Japan for organizing this important summit.

I. Addressing Challenges Endangering Human Dignity

I believe this Summit will further promote actual implementation of the Mekong-Japan cooperation that will translate our visions into specific development activities, by transforming the Mekong region into industrial corridors, enhancing national and regional competitiveness, developing complementary industrial structure and efficient transport system, and reducing the costs of transport and that of doing business.

However, the results of our efforts to realize those objectives have been occasionally undermined in a short period of time, and the hard-earned well-being of our people could disappear immediately due to the natural calamities which have been beyond our control. Recently, a number of countries, including Cambodia, have suffered from natural disasters such as the Ketsana and Milor typhoons, earthquakes in Indonesia and flooding in India. Not long time ago the Nagi cyclone seriously destroyed Myanmar.

We all are aware of the close relationship between climate change and natural calamities. We also realize that, to address these issues, we have to strike an appropriate balance between socio-economic development and environmental protection. Thus our key initiatives such as “A Decade for Green Mekong” and the “Hatoyama Initiative” have not only contributed to our collective responsibility for sustainable development, but also addressed disaster management of global climate change by working together to improve biodiversity and resilience to natural disasters through reforestation, as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions under the principle of “common, but differentiated responsibility”. In this sense, I believe Japan will continue its assistance to strengthening the capacity of the Mekong River Commission (MRC).

Indeed, addressing calamities requires our close cooperation in order to strengthen each country’s preparedness and capacity. In this context, we are of the view that Japan is capable of providing financial assistance and technology transfer and equipment to ensure adequate capacity for effective natural disaster management, clean energy development, biodiversity improvement, forestry and fisheries management, and pollution control management system and so on...

Moreover, the Royal Government of Cambodia is looking forward to deepening cooperation with the Government of Japan to address the vulnerabilities of people by reducing poverty, narrowing economic gaps, improving public health and balanced development in the Mekong Region. In this spirit, I believe that Japan and Mekong countries will also pay attention to cross-border pandemics such as the spread of H1N1 influenza and other communicable diseases especially through the cooperation in stockpiling medicines and vaccines as well as strengthening capacity to fight the pandemics.

In this regard, Cambodia warmly welcomes Japan’s assistance under the ASEAN-Japan Integration Fund provided to ASEAN countries that are vulnerable to the global economic and financial crisis, in particular the Mekong countries. This assistance focuses on a number of important sectors, such as regions vulnerable to natural disasters and preparedness to fight pandemics.

II. Promoting Cooperation and Exchanges

The Royal Government of Cambodia is ready to proactively participate in Mekong-Japan Cooperation Framework on promoting human resource exchange programs, especially among youth, people to people exchange and other programs such as training and knowledge and experience sharing, as well as scholarship for students of the Mekong region.

In this context, Cambodia highly appreciates and compliments the effort of Japan’s ODA to assure safety of tourists that create the image of Safety and Security of Mekong, that in turn, will increase the number of national and international tourists, especially Japanese, to come to the region.

Moreover, strengthening cooperation and exchange would contribute to the protection of cultural heritage through learning and improving knowledge on culture, custom and dignity of each nation that may lead to mutual respect on sovereignty. The RGC is ready for knowledge and experience sharing among experts, especially in conservation of cultural heritage. Taking this opportunity, Cambodia deeply thanks Japan for providing technical and financial support for the rehabilitation and conservation of the Angkor Temple. Moreover, Cambodia strongly hopes to receive similar cooperation and support from Japan for the rehabilitation and conservation of the Preah Vihear temple, contributing to the conservation and development of this unique world heritage.

III. Agenda on exchanging ideas about regional and global issues

I think that Mekong-Japan Summit reflects Japan’s policy of strengthening and expanding regional cooperation and interdependence between Mekong countries and Japan. I believe that through this summit Japan becomes closer to the Mekong region and the Mekong-Japan Partnership Programs will help fill in many requirements in building the future of Asia, including promoting culture interactions and institutional linkages that could response to economic and financial crisis and implement some initiatives for economic growth of the Mekong in particular and Asia as a whole.

Moreover, I appreciate and compliment the contribution of Japan in enhancing confidence, peace and stability of the region, especially my high commitment goes to the denuclearizing process in the Korean peninsula. Cambodia hopes that the six-party talk could be reconvened soon to seek positive resolution to protect the region from a nuclear danger. In this regard, Cambodia would like to appeal to all parties to respect the Joint Declaration of the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula dated February 13th, 2007 and United Nations Security Council Resolution 1718 dated April 14th, 2006.

The Royal Government of Cambodia welcomes Japan’s vision of the Mekong region and is ready for cooperation under a relevant framework in the Asia and Pacific region. In this context, Cambodia agrees with the idea of turning it into the region of stability, peace and socio-economic development. Moreover, we have to utilize the best of our social and economic resources to achieve regional integration and bring peace and prosperity to our people./.

[D] Remark at the Closing Ceremony of Mekong-Japan Summit

7th November 2009

Tokyo, Japan,

Your Excellency Chairman,

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen!

I am very pleased to note that the leaders of the Mekong Region countries and Japan actively engaged in very fruitful dialogue and exchange for the past two days, and achieved substantial results for the common cause of strengthening and extending cooperation in all areas between Mekong region and Japan. Indeed, we have demonstrated our shared vision of the Mekong region and the Mekong-Japan relationship, which will shape the future direction of our strengthened and extended cooperation.

Moreover, I would like to commend Japan for producing the Tokyo Declaration and Mekong Japan Action Plan which is comprehensive and is aimed at bolstering and extending the relationship and partnership between the Mekong region and Japan. The main thrust of this action plan constitutes the deepening economic integration for which special focus be given to promoting comprehensive development in order to reduce development disparities in the region, and to address the challenges related to our cooperation and shared ideas on regional and global issues aiming at ensuring peace, prosperity and dignity of our people.

While a number of countries have been affected by the adverse impacts of climate change such as typhoon and flooding which claimed lives of hundreds people and damaged considerable property and wealth in several countries in the Mekong region including Cambodia, we all agree on the need to maintain a balance between economic growth and environmental preservation in order to achieve sustainable development objective.

The development of Mekong region is at the heart of ASEAN and East Asian community, as it will significantly narrow the development gap within ASEAN, and becomes a pre-condition of economic integration and securing peace and stability in the Mekong region, ASEAN and East Asia.

Before closing, I would like to reiterate the spirit of “Together toward the future” which will be the spirit of development in the Mekong region in the 21st century. On behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia and the Cambodian people, I would like to express our heart-felt thanks to the Government and People of Japan for providing their continuous support for the causes of peace, stability, development and prosperity of Cambodia and other countries in the Mekong region./.

[E] Remarks at the Gala Dinner, 1st Mekong-Japan Summit

Tokyo, Japan, November 6, 2009
(19:30 – 21:00)

Your Excellency Chairman,
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

In this marvelous and friendly atmosphere, I am most privileged and honored, on behalf of Mekong region’s leaders, to express our deep gratitude to His Excellency Prime Minister YUKIO HATOYAMA for hosting this banquet to celebrate the first and momentous Mekong-Japan Summit. Taking this opportunity, I would like to congratulate the Government of Japan for the excellent arrangements of the 1st Mekong-Japan Summit. In particular, I highly appreciate the able chairmanship of this Summit by His Excellency Prime Minister YUKIO HATOYAMA, which has brought tangible outcomes for our cooperation. Thus, I wish to congratulate the Chair and express our full satisfaction with the outcomes of the Summit’s first session.

Taking this opportunity, I would like to welcome Japan’s role in promoting “New Partnership for the Common Flourishing Future” between Japan and Mekong region countries in order to accelerate development in Mekong region and further strengthen Mekong-Japan cooperation. In this spirit, I welcome “Future Vision of Mekong Region and Mekong-Japan Relationship” which focuses on promoting regional openness, peace and stability, bringing about sustainable and environmentally friendly development to the region, and eliminating threat against humankind and human dignity. Along with this, this vision will indeed promote growth in the Mekong region and contribute to ASEAN integration effort and pave the way for an East Asia Community in the long run.

I would like to reiterate Mekong region countries’ readiness for deepening cooperation with the Government of Japan to address vulnerability of the people by reducing poverty incidence, narrowing development gaps, improving health and education services, exchanging human resources, addressing environmental problems, bettering disaster management, fighting and preventing pandemics, and ensuring balanced development in the Mekong region.

I am optimistic that the actual implementation of “Future Vision of Mekong Region and Mekong-Japan Relationship” will provide substantial contribution to our effort of transforming our region into a pole of sustainable development, peace, prosperity, and harmony for everyone.

Within this spirit, I would like to invite Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen to raise your glass to our new partnership cooperation, the common prosperity for our people and countries, and good health of His Excellency Prime Minister YUKIO HATOYAMA, the Heads of Government of the Mekong Countries and all Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen here present.

[F] Address at the Luncheon Hosted by Nippon Keidanren and Nippon Shoko Kaigisho

Tokyo, November 6th, 2009.

Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my great honour and pleasure to be in Japan once again. On behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia and on my own, I would like to express my deepest appreciation to the Government of Japan and the People of Japan for its invitation and warm hospitality. I also would like to sincerely thank the Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren) and the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Nippon Shoko Kaigisho) for hosting this Luncheon for me and my delegation, taking advantage for our presence during this historic First Mekong-Japan Summit.

I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere and profound gratitude to the Government and People of Japan for their continued support to Cambodia through the provision of grants and concessional loans as well as for encouraging Japanese investors and tourists to come to Cambodia. This priceless support is critical for our current as well as future development and has enabled the economy to move forwards at a faster pace. Japanese FDIs have not only provided financial resources but have brought about much more benefits such as job creation and transfer of technologies and know-how which will help Cambodia to improve its productivity and increase its competitiveness in the international market.

Cambodia has gone through a rapid transition in many regards, by starting from scratch and civil war and eventually reaching the current situation in which the country enjoys peace, political and macro-economic stability and social progress. This favorable environment is prerequisite for future growth and prosperity of Cambodia. Based on this solid foundation, Cambodia has integrated itself into the region and the world and engaged in both bilateral and multilateral cooperation, especially on bilateral with Japan both in the political, economic, cultural, trade and investment fronts.

Cambodia is a country which Government welcomes public private partnership and is paying great attention to the business environment and promotes private sector competitiveness. The Royal Government of Cambodia considers the Private Sector as the engine of growth while its own role is to be the strategist and manager of the development, and to ensure stability, transparency and predictability. In that spirit, in 1999, the Royal Government of Cambodia has initiated a dialogue mechanism with the Private Sector aiming at: Firstly, to provide a Forum for consultation with the Private Sector on the new initiatives of the Government, Secondly, to be a mechanism to address issues facing by the Private Sector in its operation. The Government-Private Sector Forum is held twice a year under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister himself and its deliberations are considered as an enlarged cabinet meeting. Since its inception, the Forum has been convened 14 times. Through this mechanism, the Royal Government has solved many business and investment issues. In this connection, I strongly encourage Japanese investors in Cambodia to participate actively in this dialogue mechanism.

Cambodia has opened its economy for Foreign Direct Investments in all sectors including banking, insurance, telecommunications when in many countries, in such sectors, foreign investors are not allowed to control 100% of the shareholdership, without local participation requirement.

The Royal Government of Cambodia has embarked in multiple reform programs including public finances management, governance by focusing on land management, public administration, legal and judiciary system. Concerning the latter, the Royal Government has achieved encouraging progress, many trade and investments related laws have been adopted and implemented.

With regards to sectors such as agriculture, agro-industry, infrastructures, labor intensive industries, export oriented industries, oil and gas, mining and tourism, Cambodia still offers many investment opportunities.

We recognized that still more need to be done. We are fully aware that many challenges are ahead of us but our successful past experience told us that Cambodia is moving in the right direction. Lessons drawn from our past shortcomings will help us to overcome the obstacles and challenges in our journey towards a better future. We are strongly committed to pursue our efforts to improve the investment environment in order to make Cambodia an attractive FDIs destination within the region. Taking this opportunity, I wish to recall that the Agreement on the liberalization, Promotion and Protection of Investments between Cambodia and Japan has been signed since June 14th, 2007. Indeed, the economic development of the country requires concerted efforts from the government, the business community and development partners. In this spirit, along with our efforts to provide an enabling environment by focusing on the streamlining of legal and administrative procedures, the reduction of business transaction costs and the fight against corruption, the Royal Government has recently adopted concrete measures and made further efforts aiming at attracting Japanese FDIs as follows: first- Cooperation with JICA to better promote Cambodia’s investment opportunities, second- the establishment of a Japanese Desk within our investment promotion agency, namely the Council for the Development of Cambodia, and third- the establishment of a 70 hectares special economic zone located next to our deep sea port of Sihanoukville, thanks to a concessional loan from Japan. This special economic zone will hopefully attract more Japanese investors in the coming years.

As an outcome of the First Mekong-Japan Summit, Leaders of the Mekong countries and of Japan are expected to adopt and implement a “New Partnership for the Common Flourishing Future” between Japan and the Mekong countries which is about a closer and more comprehensive cooperation. This commitment and its subsequent Mekong-Japan Plan of Action will contribute to create additional investment opportunities in Cambodia.

Before closing, I wish to invite Japanese businessmen and investors to come and visit Cambodia in order to assess by themselves the opportunities. On behalf of the Royal Government, I would like to guarantee to all investors a favorable and conducive investment environment. Finally, I would like to wish your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen here present Happiness, Prosperity and Success in all your endeavors./.

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