What is the ACD summit and why is it important to Asia?

LEADERS AT the Asia Cooperation Dialogue summit yesterday adopted a vision and action plan for cooperation to build the Asian Community in the next 14 years, “to try to achieve a community for the countries across the continent. ” said Prime Minister of Thailand, Prayut.

“This would make Asia as a continent of inclusive and sustainable growth with seamless connectivity, people-centred stability and peace, dynamic innovation, research and development, as well as qualified and capable people.”

To do that, he said, they needed to drive six pillars of cooperation, namely 

  1. inter-linked dealings on food, water, and energy security; 
  2. connectivity;
  3.  science, technology and innovation;
  4.  education and human resource development; 
  5. culture and tourism, and 
  6. promoting inclusive and sustainable development.

These pillars could be absorbed in the public, private and people sectors and promoted together to create inclusiveness that will help formulate policy towards sustainable growth in Asia, he said.

There was a call urge for the region 
  •  to become a global human resources hub, 
  • enhance engagement with private sector,
  •  in-depth expansion in investment and business activities, 
  • support toward academia and 
  • expand collaboration with other global partners. 

Alibaba Group’s chairman Jack Ma, who represented the ACD private sector told leaders at the summit during an interactive session that governments should use technology, notably financial technology, and have policies to help support the younger generation and small business.

“We believe that small is beautiful, powerful and wonderful,” he told the ACD delegation. Ma said Asia was not only the fastest growing continent but also the best continent to solve poverty and inequality. 

Technology would help create jobs, rather than killing jobs, as widely feared, he said. 

Special Economic Zones, will help boost local infrastructure development and economic activity.

His Majesty the King’s Sufficiency Economy philosophy would also help member states achieve unity in economic, social, environmental dimensions including quality of balance and happiness of the people, he said. 

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also sent a note of greeting – a recorded clip shown at the beginning of the ceremony – and voiced support for the ACD Vision, and bringing about inclusive and sustainable development.

The ACD ministerial meeting is held annually as a sideline meeting to the UN General Assembly every September.

Starting in 2002 with 18 founding members, the Dialogue now has 34 member states across Asia including major economic powers such as China and Japan and top oil dealing countries in the Middle East. Though called a summit, the event this time drew only seven heads of government including Prayut – the Sultan of Brunei Darussalam, the Amir of Kuwait, and two presidents from Iran and Sri Lanka. Other attendees included two vice presidents, two deputy prime ministers, 13 ministers or officials in equivalent positions, a premier’s adviser, a Sultan’s adviser and four ambassadors. 

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