Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my great honour to address this significant gathering to celebrate the establishment of the ASEAN Community and I sincerely thank you all for being with us today. Your presence here demonstrates the great importance and attention you have attached to the ASEAN Community.
ASEAN has come a long way. Most importantly, our ASEAN Leaders at the 27th ASEAN Summit held last month in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia have opened up a new chapter in the history of ASEAN by declaring the establishment of the ASEAN Community on 31 December 2015. This key milestone testifies the strong political commitment and close cooperation within ASEAN and between ASEAN and other external partners throughout nearly 5 decades, through implementation of various initiatives, blueprints and work plans. Thanks to the ASEAN way of cooperation based on the particularity and reality of the region, this achievement has been made possible.
ASEAN’s successes during the past nearly five decades have been remarkable. We are now living in a region of peace, stability and prosperity. From tomorrow onwards, ASEAN will officially form a single market and production base with a total population of 622 million people with combined GDP of almost USD 2.6 trillion, ranking as the 7th largest world economy. Being a region of diverse cultures, religions and languages, and at the same time it is also a caring and sharing community. ASEAN is not only integral, but also central to the evolving regional architecture. ASEAN has also become a unique example of ten diverse nations who have come together under the ASEAN Community. In this light, the Lao PDR is proud to be part of this Community of ASEAN.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The ASEAN Community building is an on-going process that will evolve over the coming years. Therefore, at the 27th ASEAN Summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, the ASEAN Leaders have charted out the future direction to further strengthen and advance the ASEAN Community for the next ten years by adopting the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 or ASEAN 2025.
As you all are aware, the Lao PDR has been entrusted to chair ASEAN for the second time next year. It is an important and meaningful year as it is the first year when ASEAN becomes a Community and the first year for the implementation of the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and its Blueprints for the three community pillars (ASEAN Political-Security Community, ASEAN Economic Community and ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community).
Therefore, we have introduced the theme: “Turning Vision into Reality for a Dynamic ASEAN Community” for our ASEAN Chairmanship 2016 in view of building upon the achievements made thus far in view of maintaining and promoting a peaceful, stable, and outward-looking ASEAN region, with highly integrated and cohesive regional economy, enhanced connectivity and strengthened efforts in narrowing the development gap.
Concerning our focused areas, next year, we will concentrate our efforts in tourism development, trade facilitation, SMEs development, employment creation and cultural preservation, among others. At the same time, we will also finalize the IAI Work Plan III and the Post-2015 Agenda for ASEAN Connectivity that will constitute an integral part of the ASEAN Community Vision 2025. Moreover, ASEAN will continue to promote effective cooperation with our external partners based on the outward-looking policy of ASEAN, while enhancing ASEAN centrality.
Taking this opportunity, I wish to inform you that the preparations for Lao PDR’s ASEAN Chairmanship 2016 in both substantive and logistical terms are progressing well. On this note, we express our sincere thanks and appreciation to our fellow ASEAN Member States, ASEAN Dialogue Partners and other external partners as well as international organizations for their continued cooperation, support and assistance rendered. This has given us a strong encouragement to be a good host and effective chair next year as well as to ensure greater success of the ASEAN Community in the coming years.
Let us work closely together to seize all opportunities and overcome challenges facing the ASEAN Community for the benefits of the people of ASEAN Member States and our partners near and far.
On this note, it is my great pleasure and honour to propose a toast:
- To warmly welcome the establishment of the ASEAN Community on 31st December 2015;
- To a dynamic and prosperous ASEAN Community of our ASEAN family; and
- To our good health, happiness and greater success throughout the New Year 2016 and beyond.
I thank you very much.