February 18, 2019

Handover of the ASEAN Chairmanship 2018

By Roy Lie Atjam.

In an official ceremony, the ASEAN committee The Hague(ACTH) has handed over the chairmanship for 2018 to H.E. Mr. Jaya Ratnam, Ambassador of the Republic of Singapore.

To mark the occasion, the Ambassador of Indonesia H.E. I Gusti Wesaka Puja hosted a dinner reception to celebrate the handover of the ASEAN chairmanship. The celebration took place at the Nusantara Hall, Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia on 16 January 2018.

H.E. I Gusti Wesaka Puja, expressed his gratitude for the cooperation, solidarity, and support within the ACTH. He went on to welcome the guests. Several none ASEAN Ambassadors attended the ceremony.

Furthermore, there were presentations by the Ambassador of the Philippines Ambassador Jaime Victor B. Ledda and by the Ambassador Jaya Ratman of Singapore. In part, this is what Ambassador Ratnam said.

I would like to thank Pak Puja and the Indonesian Embassy in the Hague for inviting us and hosting this reception. I wish to also thank Ambassador Jamie Victor Ledda for his presentation on ASEAN’s accomplishments under the Philippine Chairmanship.

Last year was a milestone for ASEAN as we celebrated our 50th anniversary. We have come a long way from when we were founded as a 5-member bloc in 1967. We have since matured into a Community focused on regional peace, economic integration and constructive engagement with our external partners.

The Philippines’ able leadership as ASEAN Chair in 2017 helped to enhance cooperation between ASEAN Member States and solidify ASEAN’s collective voice on the world stage. As the Chair of ASEAN in 2018, Singapore looks forward to building upon the good work done by the Philippines as well as previous Chairs.

ASEAN is a region brimming with potential. More than 60% of ASEAN’s estimated population of 630 million are under the age of 35. The establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community and the ASEAN Free Trade Area also offers great opportunities for our businesses to expand and creates more choices for our consumers.

As ASEAN Chair, Singapore will push to strengthen and deepen ASEAN integration to take advantage of this immense potential, through the themes of ‘resilience’ and ‘innovation’ Building ASEAN’s resilience will help develop a safer and more secure region.

We will champion projects that help us deal with emerging collective security challenges such cybersecurity, transnational crime, and terrorism. This will ensure stability and peace which are cornerstones for the progress and prosperity of the region.

As ASEAN Chair, Singapore will also focus on developing our relations with external partners, including the EU, particularly as we take over the coordinator/ship of ASEAN-EU dialogue relations in mid-2018.

The EU is an important partner; it is the largest source of Foreign Direct Investment in ASEAN with a total of 20.1 billion euros in 2015. It was also the ASEAN’s second largest trading partner in 2015. Nevertheless, there is potential for growth.

More can be done to facilitate trade and business. Out of 300 European companies surveyed in the EU-ASEAN Business Survey 2017, 75% expected an increase of profits for 2017 in ASEAN and 94% are planning to expand or maintain their current levels of operations and headcount in the region.

There is also great potential to grow relations between ASEAN and individuals EU Member States such as the Netherlands. ASEAN can learn much from the Netherlands in specialized areas such as water and waste management, climate change, trade and urban development. As ASEAN Chair and incoming ASEAN-EU country coordinator, we are excited to take advantage of the multitude of available opportunities to deepen cooperation in existing fields and to find new areas to collaborate.

We look forward to working with all our partners to ensure a successful year for ASEAN.

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