Keynote Address at Opening Plenary of the 7th ACMECS Summit and 8th CLMV Summit

Delivered at Opening Plenary of the 7th ACMECS Summit and 8th CLMV Summit in Hanoi, Vietnam

Your Excellencies,
Distinguished delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you for inviting ESCAP to this joint summit of ACMECS and CLMV.
Excellencies, your countries have navigated tough political, economic and social challenges. Rising above these, the Mekong subregion has positioned itself well, regionally as well as globally. Its performance in economic growth, trade or social progress including the pace of poverty reduction has been impressive. The growth outlook for the Mekong subregion remains favorable, ranges from 6.0 to 8.5 percent and supported by steady inflows of FDI. Unlike most emerging economies in the Asia-Pacific with shrinking exports, shipments from this subregion were relatively strong in 2016. Underlying the economic growth, the Mekong subregion stands out for increased productivity at rates unparalleled in the developing world.

Considerable progress has been made in regional cooperation and integration across the Mekong belt given its diversity and shared resource potential. CLMV as an integral part of ASEAN and related institutions is a shining example of what can be achieved. CLMV has reinforced the dynamism of the ASEAN bloc through the strength of its people, their entrepreneurial and innovative spirit and their resilience. In addition to the Mekong subregion’s progressive regional connectivity and integration with ASEAN, the confidence and potential of CLMV countries has attracted substantial FDI inflows from within ASEAN and from larger Asian economies. CLMV is a recipient of over 90 percent of ODA flows to ASEAN and one quarter of those to Asia’s developing countries.

Going forward, the Mekong subregion has to gear itself up for delivering on the promises of the ASEAN Economic Community 2025, while withstanding the effects of sluggish global recovery and growing competition from its advanced partner countries. On the domestic front, rising inequalities, coupled with climate change, pollution and depletion of natural resources are emerging as potent threats to socioeconomic development that need to be addressed.

To deal with these challenges, it is encouraging that countries in the Mekong subregion are embarking on the Sustainable Development Agenda in accordance with their national and regional priorities and they have ratified the Paris Climate Agreement.

There are a number of different mechanisms through which ESCAP is supporting the Mekong subregion.

First, ESCAP as Coordinator of the UN-wide Regional Coordination Mechanism of the development agenda in the Asia-Pacific has been coordinating the ASEAN – UN Joint Plan of Action in accordance with member States’ priorities. These range from trade and investment, transboundary issues, unlocking the digital economy to tackling climate change. This Plan of Action provides an unprecedented opportunity for the Mekong subregion and ESCAP to work together on our shared agenda.

Second, the Mekong subregional connectivity agenda is fostered through ESCAP’s overall Regional Economic Cooperation and Integration agenda. Taking stock of the achievements in this area, ESCAP will now deliberate with member States on the next generation regional cooperation areas including the transboundary goals and targets under the Sustainable Development Agenda.

Third, CLMV countries benefit from the dedicated platform created by ESCAP to support the countries with special needs.

Finally, the subregion benefits from the intergovernmental Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development and the Asia-Pacific Financing for Development Forum which are now being oriented to help countries with the capacity building, technical cooperation and sharing of best practices. In tandem, these platforms will help in SDG follow up and monitoring of progress.

To conclude, the countries of the Mekong Region will be a cornerstone of ASEAN’s success. In turn, ASEAN’s success will be integral in the success of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. We look forward to working with you to achieve this success in the years ahead.

I thank you.