Address at Session Theme “Seize Opportunities and Shape the Future”, 8th CLMV Summit – Retreat

Delivered at 8th CLMV Summit in Hanoi, Vietnam

Distinguished delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to once again thank our hosts, the Government of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam for this opportunity. I would like to reinforce and share with you perspectives and suggestions on the future of economic development in the CLMV countries and how ESCAP can support this progress.

There are many synergies between ASEAN and ESACP. They are both multi-sectoral and intergovernmental. ASEAN countries are active members of ESCAP, so we must enhance our partnership and ensure that our partnership is as efficient and effective as possible. We must not reinvent the wheel, so to speak.

The CLMV agenda discussed today, is clearly aligned with that of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which promotes inclusiveness, pursues green growth and low carbon pathways, respects planetary boundaries and sustains human well-being. This challenge is embodied in the 17 interlinked Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

ESCAP, with its mandates on sustainable development and regional integration can leverage its intergovernmental platforms in the Asia-Pacific to lend support to the CLMV countries in their SDG efforts, to enhance connectivity and economic growth. To ensure action is taken specifically would like to focus concrete suggestions rather than to discuss generalities.

In this context I propose that ESCAP and CLMV countries, along with Thailand, undertake a practical exchange on sustainable development, similar to the recent session on SDGs and complementarities to ASEAN 2025 at the seventy-first session of the United Nations General Assembly, but specific to CLMV issues and ASEAN integration. Such dialogue would be very beneficial to address sustainable development issues such as statistics, where in the subregion we only have half the statistics are available for monitoring and review.

It is imperative that the development gaps between the CLMV countries and the rest of ASEAN be narrowed. One concrete way to do this is to examine at the digital divide across the CLMV countries, which is quite stark. It is evident that much work remains to increase access to affordable broadband services, which enhances competitiveness. An enormous infrastructure investment task lies ahead to support a new wave of urbanisation and population growth requiring capital to be channeled from new sources. There are also missing links in some of the key road networks and greater rail connectivity is needed for the CLMV countries to reach their full connectivity potential. A move to energy sources and technologies that reduce emissions of greenhouse gases is also required to limit climate change and to be in line with the commitments made at Paris.

Against these challenges that all the leaders and I have highlighted, there is an ocean of opportunities. CLMV countries with their extensively linked borders and strategic geography offer vast potential to confront many of these challenges through deepening of subregional integration, including trade, investment and connectivity in transport, energy and ICT.

In addition to the practical exchange on sustainable development, I would like to offer that ESCAP, together with ASEAN, convene a Ministerial Meeting and Agreement on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). To date RCEP discussions have not led to a political conclusions and a more work is needed to effectively leverage this agreement for the CLMV subregion’s benefit.

The next phase of economic development of the CLMV countries will need to be guided by sustainable development. Science Technology and Innovation (STI) is one is one field where investment can leverage our ability to achieve the SDGs. ESCAP recently formed an STI advisory group, made up of ten of the region’s leading scientists, including the Malaysian Prime Minster’s leading STI advisor. This group reviews current action being undertaken and provides recommendations on future regional STI policy direction. I believe a dedicated CLMV STI interface and dialogue would help ensure you are capable of harnessing your local STI industry and initiatives for sustainable development. In addition we must also explore STI partnerships with multilateral banks such as ADB and the World Bank, to ensure STI is prioritized and incorporated into development resourcing.

ESCAP stands ready lend its support to the CLMV countries and leverage its intergovernmental platform, convening power and analytical capabilities to achieve shared progress.

It has been a pleasure to hear the perspectives of the subregion’s leaders.

I thank you.