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34th ASEAN Summit in Bangkok – preview

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34th ASEAN Summit in Bangkok – preview | The Thaiger

South-east Asian leaders will assemble for the 34th ASEAN Summit in Bangkok this weekend to discuss a range of hot topics. Bangkok’s busy Wireless Road will be closed during the Summit. The event is being held at The Athenée Hotel.

Intersections on Wireless, Phloen Chit and Sarasin roads will be closed over the weekend to facilitate the movements and security of summit delegates.

The summit will be held under the theme “Advancing Partnership for Sustainability”. Amongst expected outcomes, policy statements about local marine debris prevention and an “Indo-Pacific Outlook”.

Thailand’s PM Prayut Chan-o-cha will chair the summit despite not yet having announced his new Cabinet. Suriya Chindawongse, director general of ASEAN affairs at the Foreign Ministry, confirmed that the leaders of all 10 member-nations would attend.

Foreign Minister Don Pramudwinai, who has served in the military-backed government since August 2015, will assist Prayut on both the substance and protocols of the gathering. He has hinted about finishing his post after the summit.

10,000 police officers and security officials will be deployed around the venue and at strategic locations around the capital.

A decade ago the ASEAN Summit was held in Pattaya when anti-government red-shirt protesters stormed into the meeting venue forcing a hasty evacuation.

“Hundreds of anti-government protesters have gathered in Pattaya as the ASEAN summit opens. The supporters of former PM Thaksin Shinawatra, deposed in a 2006 coup, say they will blockade a hotel where heads of state are to meet. The move follows three days of huge protests in the Thai capital, Bangkok, calling on PM Abhisit Vejjajiva to call new polls. Mr Abhisit declared Friday a public holiday to help cope with the protests.” – Pattaya 2009

Myanmar’s State Counsellor, Aung San Suu Kyi will also attend the event on invitation from the Thai PM, and is expected to face a barrage of criticism from member states over her mishandling of the Rohingya crisis.

The regional bloc, of which Myanmar is a member, has already worked out tentative plans for the repatriation of the Rohingya who fled violence at home and took refuge across the border in Bangladesh. So far there has been little signs of moment from the 750,000 Rohingya refugees living in make-shift accommodation. Despite encouragement and promises of safe passage, most refugees have questioned the Myanmar government, and military’s (Tatmadaw), intentions and sincerity.

ASEAN Secretary General Lim Jock Hoi led an assessment team on a visit to Rakhine late last year, resulting in a report circulating among ASEAN members.

On its Indo-Pacific strategy, ASEAN will issue its “Outlook” paper by the end of the summit, taking into account competing efforts by both China and the US to expand their influence in the region. ASEAN was striving to secure shared benefit for all stakeholders amid the shifting geopolitics straddling both the Pacific and Indian oceans.

On the economic front, ASEAN seeks to conclude negotiations over the RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership), the world’s largest economic bloc, under Thailand’s chairmanship by the end of this year. But an economics official said the prospects for doing so are not promising.

“The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership is a proposed free trade agreement between the ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the six Asia-Pacific states with which ASEAN has existing free trade agreements.”

Established in 2013, the RCEP has representation from 16 economies – all 10 ASEAN members plus Australia, New Zealand, China, India, Japan and South Korea. They have formalised 20 chapters of a pact aimed at liberalising trade and services but have found agreement on only seven at this stage.

34th ASEAN Summit in Bangkok - preview | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: The Nation

ASEAN

Vietnam pushing to be leading digital economy in ASEAN by 2030

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Vietnam pushing to be leading digital economy in ASEAN by 2030 | The Thaiger

Excerpts from Viet Nam News – Asia News Network

Vietnam wants to be the leading digital economy in ASEAN by 2030.

A draft project on national digital transformation by Vietnam’s Authority of Information Technology Application (AITA) is being submitted for approval in November. The project aims to develop the Vietnamese economy based on digital technologies.

Speaking at a conference this week to review MIC’s activities in the first half of the year, Vietnam’s AITA director Nguyen Thanh Phuc said that all people would be able to participate in the digital economy.

Phuc said the main targets would include improving the competitiveness of the economy, with the average growth rate of the digital economy reaching 20 per cent a year, and labour productivity growth of 7-10% by 2030.

The project also aims to take Vietnam into the global top 20 and ASEAN top three in terms of the global competitiveness index, as well as building a transparent and effective government to be in the world’s top 50 in terms of e-government. The project also plans to have everyone using mobile payment services by 2030.

The AITA has proposed that the digital transformation road map in Vietnam would be implemented in three phases…

• the country would digitalise industrial sectors and implement digital transformation of the economy, society and State agencies from 2020-22

• it would focus on digital transformation to improve labour productivity, creating new growth momentum and competitiveness from 2023-25

• it would move towards the development of a comprehensive digital economy and society from 2026-30

Vietnam’s Ministry of Information and Communications stated that Vietnam needed to develop a safe network security ecosystem. There would be some 100 network security businesses in the next two years while 50 network security products and services by Vietnamese firms would be widely used. The number of specialists in the sector would reach some 1,000 people and bring the market to US$1 billion to $2 billion by 2020.

Statistics from the ministry show that the network security sector has seen strong development. In the first half of the year, there were 20 firms granted business registration on trading of network security products and services.

Read the full article HERE.

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ASEAN commit to eliminating marine plastic

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ASEAN commit to eliminating marine plastic | The Thaiger

“At present, four ASEAN members are the world’s top ocean polluters, namely Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand.”

At the recent 34th ASEAN Summit in Bangkok last month the 10 member states of ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asia Nations) adopted “The Bangkok Declaration on Combating Marine Debris in the ASEAN Region” in an effort to eliminate marine plastic debris in the region. ASEAN officials describe the document as a testament to the group’s attempts to address the problem in a serious and sustainable manner.

“ASEAN agreed to concentrate on the issue of marine debris, which has a widespread impact on the well-being, health and hygiene of people, marine life and resources” said PM Prayuth Chan-o-cha.

Thai PBS reports that, at present, four of the ASEAN members are the world’s top ocean polluters – Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand – according to a 2017 report by Ocean Conservancy. Each country is now individually attempting to curb the cataclysmic issue.

For example, Indonesia is the world’s second-largest producer of plastic waste after China, contributing around 3.22 million tonnes annually. With Bali’s beaches suffering from the plastic litter problem for years, the island’s governor has imposed a ban on single-use plastics, aiming to reduce the amount of plastic waste by as much as 70% within a year.

ASEAN commit to eliminating marine plastic | News by The Thaiger

The Philippines generates an estimated 1.88 million tonnes of plastic waste every year.  In a show of its seriousness in dealing with the problem, the Philippines returned 69 shipping containers of illegal rubbish back to Canada after a long-running dispute between the two countries. Likewise, Malaysia, the world’s top destination for plastic waste after China, will send as much as 3,000 tonnes of non-recyclable plastic waste back to the countries of origin.

Thailand is currently the world’s sixth largest source of plastic polluting the ocean, with 1.03 million tonnes each year. The government has taken a proactive approach by initiating the Roadmap on Plastic Waste Management for 2018 – 2030. The goal is to reduce or eliminate three types of plastic by the end of this year, including plastic cap seals on water bottles, oxo-degradable plastics and microbeads.

By the end of 2022,  Thailand hopes to be free of plastic bags less than 36 microns in thickness, styrofoam food boxes, plastic straws and single-use plastic cups. Finally, 100% of plastic waste will be recyclable by 2027.

“When you reuse, the reduction comes” said Dr. Thevarak Rochanapruk, an expert in petrochemicals and a member of The Interdisciplinary Network of The Royal Institute of Thailand.

“This policy really is a good start, very good, but now they cannot do it alone. The government needs help from public sector and from the media, academia and so on. Raising public awareness is the key because they are the ones using plastic” he added.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE: Thai PBS

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ASEAN takeaways – 34th Summit in Bangkok

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ASEAN takeaways – 34th Summit in Bangkok | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Thai PBS

Time to say goodbye. The leaders, minders, security details, media and staff all head back to the ten ASEAN nations following a non-controversial Bangkok Summit held over the weekend, as well as regional plenaries held last Thursday and Friday.

The expensive crockery is being put away, the hundreds of flags neatly folded, the chairs stacked and stored, and right hands having a rest after four days of hand-shaking and regional back-slapping.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha thanked all leaders for adopting the “ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific” plan which will reinforce ASEAN’s role in the region.

He also thanked Indonesian President Joko Widodo for playing an important role in driving the concept which, he said, will complement existing frameworks of cooperation at the regional and sub-regional levels and generate tangible and concrete deliverables for the benefit of the people of the region.

The Summit, he added, reinforced the importance of strengthening the regional economy and support for the conclusion of the RCEP negotiations this year – the world’s largest trade bloc – which will help ASEAN manage change and uncertainty in the region, especially regarding trade tensions between the US and China.

The Thai PM also noted the Summit’s adoption of the “Bangkok Declaration on Combatting Marine Debris in the ASEAN region”, adding that the declaration demonstrates the bloc’s commitment to reducing marine debris in a serious and sustainable manner.

Also, the Summit agreed to the launch of the Satellite Warehouse, under the Disaster Emergency Logistics System for ASEAN and the ASEAN Centre of Military Medicine, both centres are located in Thailand.

The PM added that the Summit supported ASEAN’s bid to host the World Cup in 2034 and called on all football associations in the region and the people of ASEAN to support this dream and to make it a reality.

ASEAN leaders also attached importance to ASEAN awareness-raising and the promotion of ASEAN identity among the people of the region.

SOURCE: Thai PBS

ASEAN takeaways - 34th Summit in Bangkok | News by The Thaiger

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