PM Prayut pushes ‘new vision’ at Asia Cooperation Dialogue

Thailand hosted the 34-nation Asia Cooperation Dialogue in Bangkok last week where Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha advocated for greater pan-Asian cooperation through Thailand’s roadmap “Vision for Asia 2030” that lays out progress on regional connectivity and elevating the roles of the private sector and chambers of commerce.

The “meeting is crucial for member states to shape a concrete vision and direction for future cooperation,’’ Prime Minister Prayut said in delivering the keynote address.

“Despite our diverse values and cultures, I am positive that we all want to see an Asian community that achieves a balance between economic growth and social progress, underpinned by inclusive and sustainable development,” he said.

The Asian Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) was founded in 2002 as an initiative of the Thai government. It is an intergovernmental organization that seeks to promote interdependence and cooperation among member states to reduce poverty and achieve more equitable growth, expand trade and financial markets, and place Asia on a more equal footing when interacting with the world.

Member states were all represented by senior officials, ambassadors or ministers during the 14th meeting of the grouping in Bangkok last week, and Thailand is proposing the grouping hold a summit for the 15th meeting later this year in Thailand, with scheduling dependent upon the availability of regional leaders.

With Thailand chairing the ACD in 2015-16 and having just taken up the chairmanship of the G77 group of developing countries, the Kingdom has an opportunity to raise its international profile and embellish its long-standing reputation as a nation that can serve as a bridge between diverse countries and regions that are competitors and sometimes in conflict.

Thailand presented a concept paper on “ACD Connect.” It encourages consideration of alternative approaches to achieving inclusive and sustainable development in support of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

It calls on private sectors that are in the same value chain to take advantage of the collective strengths and common goals of Asia, such as food, energy, innovation, connectivity and tourism.

Thailand’s “Vision for Asia 2030” lays out a pathway to increase ACD connectivity in infrastructure, transport, food, energy and telecommunications. It advocates for amending rules and regulations to facilitate trade, investment, tourism, and other economic activities.

The meeting also regrouped the areas of cooperation into six pillars – connectivity; science, technology and innovation; education and human resource development; interrelation of food, energy and water security; tourism and culture; and inclusive and sustainable development.

“We should plan new strategies to move forward and enhance ACD internal mechanisms by laying a more solid and progressive foundation for the ACD,” Prime Minister Prayut said.