ing【Spearheading Regional Integration】

发布时间:2020-03-26 来源: 历史回眸 点击:

  Shortly after the ASEAN Regional Forum in Kuala Lumpur, Thai Ambassador and rotating Chairman of the ASEAN Beijing Committee, Jullapong Nonsrichai, answered questions from Beijing Review reporter Yan Wei on ASEAN’s role and the China-ASEAN relationship.
  Beijing Review: ASEAN foreign ministers voiced their opinions on a number of major international issues during the recent meetings in Malaysia. How does ASEAN define its role in the international system, especially in East Asia?
  Jullapong Nonsrichai: ASEAN believes in moderation, and hence, ASEAN has forged close relationships with not only its neighbors, but also other countries in order to achieve peace, stability and prosperity in the region.
  ASEAN has been enhancing its relationships with dialogue partners and reinforcing its regional role. ASEAN always uses the opportunity such as the post ministerial meeting and the summit, to exchange views with their dialogue partners on various international and regional issues. Hence, our relationship has developed to the stage of mutual trust and confidence.
  In order to strengthen its role in international fora, ASEAN is developing an ASEAN Charter to provide the legal framework for an ASEAN Community that is forward looking and people-oriented.
  ASEAN is pioneering regional integration such as with AFTA [ASEAN Free Trade Area]. ASEAN also established free trade areas (FTAs) with some of our dialogue partners and the ASEAN-China FTA could probably be expanded into an East Asia FTA in the future.
  It can be said that ASEAN is a model for broader integration mainly in East Asia. We are trying to link countries in the region for the mutual benefit of peace, prosperity and stability despite conflicts and differences between some countries. Recently ASEAN has initiated the East Asia Summit, which is the forum where the leaders could have frank discussions on various issues.
  What are the challenges and opportunities ASEAN faces in the regional integration process?
  ASEAN sees regional integration as the stepping stone to achieving regional growth. That is why ASEAN, through the Viet Nam Action Plan, has laid down goals and strategies toward realizing the ASEAN Community by 2020. The community will be built upon three pillars involving security, economic and socio-cultural aspects. The key challenge is to produce tangible outcomes from regional integration.
  The narrowing of development gaps within ASEAN is crucial to move forward together in ASEAN’s integration and the wider integration within East Asia.
  Moreover, economic integration is a key dimension. The 11 priority integration sectors are scheduled for zero tariffs by January 2007 for the ASEAN 6 [Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam] and 2012 for the newer members.
  For the broader integration, leaders in East Asia have expressed their political resolve and commitment to forging region-wide cooperation. ASEAN’s primary role is to bring countries in East Asia closer together, which will help create an “enabling environment” that provides political stability and stimulates economic and person linkages within the region.
  In this context, China has played a significant role in helping narrow the development gaps within ASEAN and developing the Mekong Sub-region.
  What is the most important achievement made by China and ASEAN in the past 15 years? What will be the new areas of cooperation that may emerge as the China-ASEAN dialogue relationship continues to deepen?
  China and ASEAN have built a solid groundwork of cooperation in many key areas including political, economic and socio-cultural. The achievement of the relationship between China and ASEAN has been significant to the extent that the relations can be said to be a model for dialogue partnership. Therefore, we hope to build upon this strong foundation of cooperation and accomplish even more in the future.
  At the same time as China strives to build a “moderately well-off society in an all-round way” in the next 15 years, ASEAN envisages realizing an ASEAN Community by the year 2020. Our goals are similar and, thus, our interests will be best realized if we synchronize our efforts and join forces in fostering a peaceful and stable environment conducive to our goals.
  Areas of cooperation have expanded from five to 10 priority areas, namely, agriculture, information and communication technology, human resource development, two-way investment, Mekong Basin development, transportation, energy, culture, tourism and public health. We are committed to deepening collaboration in these areas.
  ASEAN-China partnership is a core component of ASEAN’s outward-looking and dynamic external relations, which helps to create synergy and move cooperation forward in other sub-regional, regional and international fora such as the GMS [Greater Mekong Sub-Region], ASEAN plus three [China, Japan and South Korea], EAS [East Asia Summit], ARF [ASEAN Regional Forum], APEC [Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation] and the larger ACD [Asia Cooperation Dialogue].
  We commend China for being the first dialogue partner of ASEAN to accede to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia in 2003 in Bali.
  To stem drug trafficking in the region, we highly appreciate China’s active involvement with ASEAN in this fight through the ASEAN and China Cooperative Operation in Response to Dangerous Drugs.
  The establishment of the ASEAN-China FTA is the first and the largest FTA between ASEAN and a dialogue partner, which certainly attracts the world’s attention. It has provided impetus for other regional FTA initiatives.
  This year ASEAN and China are celebrating the 15th anniversary of their substantive relations. The Commemorative Summit will be held October 30-31 in Nanning.
  Are you confident about the commitment made by Chinese and ASEAN leaders to build an FTA by 2010?
  On November 6, 2001, the ASEAN-China Summit agreed to establish an ASEAN-China FTA within 10 years. It marked the first FTA signed by either ASEAN or China.
  Significantly, we are on track to reduce tariffs to zero for all goods by 2010 for ASEAN 6 and China and by 2015 for the newer ASEAN member states.
  I am not only confident that the building of ASEAN-China FTA is on the right track but also that the ASEAN-China FTA has become a benchmark for economic integration within the region. It has often been used as a template for other FTA negotiations with other dialogue partners by ASEAN. It is important that we continue to work hard in resolving implementation-related issues in the ASEAN-China FTA to ensure the utmost benefits for our peoples and, at the same time, establish ASEAN-China FTA as a fundamental pillar for the eventual establishment of the East Asia FTA.

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