Unity is only viable way to overcome challenges and achieve our goal to ASEAN Community

President  U Thein Sein and Cambodian Prime Minister pose for documentary  photo with businessmen at ASEAN Business and Investment Summit 2014.
President U Thein Sein and Cambodian Prime Minister pose for documentary photo with businessmen at ASEAN Business and Investment Summit 2014.

President U Thein Sein delivered an address at the opening ceremony of ASEAN Business and Investment Summit 2014 and presentation of ASEAN Business Awards at MICC-2 in Nay Pyi Taw on Tuesday. He said: First, I would like to welcome the theme; Inclusive Connectivity: New Growth Paradigms. It is truly, timely and greatly supports the ASEAN Community building efforts.
Today, we are at a critical juncture to establish ASEAN Community through our collective efforts and commitments. ASEAN’s unity in diversity is a hall mark of our collective strength which is economically dynamic, highly competitive that ensures equal opportunities to promote socio-economic life of our people in the region.
Inclusive Connectively will promote not only people-to-people communication, but also contributes to the economic development and investment opportunities of ASEAN region.
Since its inception 47 years ago, ASEAN has weathered the storms of economic downturns, natural disasters, pandemics, etc., but also achieved success and  gained benefits. Based upon such experiences, I believe that the current efforts of ASEAN Community building and negotiations on Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) will contribute significantly to our efforts for integration with and beyond the region.
Efforts of business leaders and peoples in the ASEAN region have enhanced the ASEAN economy with the combined GDP of US$2.5 trillion. This made ASEAN the seventh largest economy in the world. With the intra-regional trade increased to US$602 billion in 2013, ASEAN has a great potential to maintain the momentum and eventually become the fourth largest economy in the world by 2050.
We welcome the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEF) process as a network of open economics. RCEF links the economics of our region from India in the west to China, Japan to Korea in the east and down South to New Zealand and Australia. This on-going free trade regime will be operationalized among 16 countries with a combined population of 3 billion people and a combined GDP of around US$17 trillion dollars. Its potential is estimated to make up about 40 per cent of global trade.
In spite of the favourable developments in ASEAN economy, we still face challenges. Efforts for poverty alleviation and narrowing the development gaps among the ASEAN Member States remain issues that need special attention. To address these issues, we should give more emphasis to the promotion of small and medium enterprises.
The important role of SMEs in the ASEAN Community enhances socio-economic lives of people and also balances economic growth in the region. Increased job opportunities and income generation would contribute towards broadening the equitable economic down the development gap in the region. This is the rationale for the ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN-BAC) in its focus on elevating market competitiveness of micro, small and medium economic enterprises (MSMS Es) as one of its priorities for 2014.
I am pleased to note that efforts to narrow the development gap by CLMV countries in the areas of domestic manufacturing, trade, investment and services have made positive developments. The total external trade of the CLMV countries reached up to 312.4 US$ in 2013 and therefore a significant increase of 15.2% was made compared to 2012. Foreign Direct Investment inflows accounted for 13.2 billion and improvement was noted in construction and manufacturing sectors. In view of developing investments and trade of these countries, we should encourage more on industrial zones and special economic zones (linked) to key economic corridors of the Master Plan of ASEAN Connectivity. Linking up the industrial zones and special economic zones would support greatly to the implementation of the new paradigm of Inclusive Connecivity.
In conclusion, I would like to reiterate our commitment to ASEAN integration. Unity is the only viable way to overcome challenges and achieve our goal to ASEAN Community. In this regard, we as ASEAN, a people-centred and people-oriented organization, must highlight the importance of people’s participation in business environment, along with inclusiveness and transparency. Promoting ethics and competitiveness of the people-centred and people-oriented economic environment would gain strengths to advance economic development of each member state and economic development in the region. I believe that the ASEAN Business Awards will greatly encourage innovative and venturous entrepreneurs to mobilize skills to set a prestigious benchmark for the New Growth Paradigm.
The president beat Yadana golden gong three times for opening of the Summit and awarding ceremony.
Union ministers awarded national winners and ASEAN Runner-up Winners in ASEAN Business Award.The president and the Cambodian Prime Minister presented ASEAN Business Awards to the winners.
Later, those present were served with dinner.

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