16th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Plus Three Summit (APT) opened here Thursday with the leaders pledging to further enhance their cooperation in a wide range of areas so as to contribute to an East Asia Community.
Bruneian Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, who now chairs the 10-nation bloc, said in his opening remarks that the APT countries aim to ensure economic recovery, financial stability and to deepen links amongst the countries in order to strengthen regional cooperation towards building an East Asia Community.
He highlighted measures by the countries to strengthen regional surveillance mechanism and financial safety net, saying it will contribute to enhancing financial stability, ensuring sustainable economic growth and further deepening the integration of the East Asia region.
Hassanal, meanwhile, called for further cooperation between the APT countries, in enhancing regional supply chain with the focus on development of small and medium enterprises in the region, encouraging all relevant stakeholders’ involvement and fully utilizing existing means to support the efforts.
He also called a timely and successful conclusion of negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership ( RCEP) on the socio-cultural aspect, adding the countries should strengthen people-to-people ties through education, exchanges and tourism.
Hassanal said all sides have to address challenges and step up efforts in key areas of common interest such as health-related issues, including emerging infectious disease and pandemic preparedness and response.
Collaborations on the APT emergency rice preserve, energy security and disaster management and connectivity should also be improved, according to the sultan, who added the APT should utilize the East Asia Forum and the network of East Asia think tanks for a better cooperation.
In an address to the summit, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang spoke highly of the ASEAN Plus Three cooperation, saying it has played an important role in stabilizing the region’s economy and made significant contribution to the economic growth of East Asia and the world at large.
He said the countries should remain committed to maintaining peace and stability in the region, firmly adhere to the principles of mutually beneficial cooperation and common development, and give top priority to economic development and people’s well-being, so as to ensure the East Asia cooperation will stay on the track of sound growth.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye said at the summit that she hopes the APT will serve as an opportunity to make the vision of mechanism more concrete and actionable.
She said South Korea will take an active part in the process of building a peaceful and prosperous East Asian Community, adding it is critically important for all sides to translate specific plans into actions.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reiterated his goal of creating an open, vigorous East Asia rich in innovation, saying innovative and concrete results have been achieved.
He added that the APT is an important regional cooperation framework, along with Japan-China-ROK trilateral cooperation and the East Asia Summit, and hopes for further development of regional cooperation.
Inaugurated in 1997, the APT comprises all 10 ASEAN member states and China, South Korea and Japan with its main focus on economic cooperation. As of now, the APT has become the major pillar of East Asia cooperation. Media agencies