His Excellency Thongloun SISOULITH,
Prime Minister of the Lao PDR
at 23rd International Conference on the Future of Asia
“Globalism at a crossroad-Asia’s next move”
June 05, 2017, 13:30-14:10 hrs., Tokyo, Japan
Mr. Naotoshi Okada, President and CEO of Nikkei,
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is my great pleasure and honor being invited once again to attend this International Conference on the Future of Asia, and I recall my participation in the 19th Conference in 2013 during my previous capacity as Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of the Lao PDR. This 23rd Conference, which is being organized by Nikkei Inc., under the theme “Globalism at a crossroads-Asia’s next move”, is of great relevance to the current global environment. On this occasion, I would also like to express my appreciation for the warm hospitality accorded to us.
Ladies and gentlemen,
At present, we are at a crucial period of globalization, which we all acknowledge, is offering both opportunities and challenges. Globalization as we understand is often referred to an expansion of trade and investment cooperation among nations, the use of modern technology in enhancing our relationship and cooperation for mutual benefits among countries. Social and political scientists from different institutes have undertaken various analyses into the origin and evolution of globalization but their assumptions vary. While one theory has concluded that the beginning of globalization could be traced back to the time when Christopher Columbus reached America in 1492, another claimed it had happened even well over thousands of years before that, and some have assumed that it started just after World War II, among others. When going back as far as history on the Chinese Silk Road, which existed more than 1.000 years ago, the Japanese opening up to the outside world during Meiji period and other undertaking in ancienttime, they could also be of important case studies on the history of Globalism. But one thing, which is certain and realistic, is the fact that globalization offers various opportunities and conditions conducive for global integration, for all nations to share both responsibilities and benefits, renders a platform for mutual assistance and inter-dependence, thus shrinking and connecting our world, enabling our people to communicate with one another at any level and at no time.
Throughout the past decades, globalization has created a wide range of conditions and opportunities for development and international cooperation. Since 1950s, global trade volume has increased 20 folds as well as the flow of foreign direct investment had soared exponentially. In Asia in particular, globalization has been quickly wide-spread, broadened and deepened. Countries in Asia namely China, India and newly emerging economies have also experienced a rapid and sustained economic growth, which has lifted hundreds of millions of people from poverty, thus resulting in a shift in policy formulation covering a wider scope. In addition, creating enabling environment for enhancing connectivity between countries and across regions, the application of new technology to facilitate intra-regional and international trade and investment including fast movement of foreign direct investments has become more vibrant, thus making most analysts believe that our world is entering a new era of quality development and the 4th Industrial Revolution has become reality.
Ladies and gentlemen,
If I may describe: cooperation mechanism in the era of globalization have brought about not only economic benefits but also become an important platform for addressing and resolving regional and global conflicts, thus making important contribution to the maintenance of peace and security in the region and the world at large. This is due to the fact that in an era of globalization, a problem in one country affecting another country occurred in one region, could have potential impact on another region. Such problem could not be resolved by a single nation alone whether big or small, rich or poor. It requires only and absolutely concerted effort by all to address such problem.
Although globalization has offeredpotential benefits and opportunities for all countries in the world to foster development and economic growth as mentioned earlier, it has alsobrought about numerous challenges both at regional and global scales for instance, a development gap that will result in imbalances in capacity to access and reap benefits from globalization process is inevitable. Indeed, countries with higher capacity are better off. Therefore, this may have been one of the factors which could cause conflict.
Throughout the past three decades, many countries in the world have utilized the opportunities given by globalization to advance development and lifted their status from being low-income to high-income or modern and industrialized countries. On the other hand, a number of countries have experienced severe trade deficits and become highly indebted. Against this backdrop, globalization has also led to unequal distribution of wealth and development across different regions. As a result, some have gained while others have lost. In developed countries, a significant number of working class people and people at the grass-root level are still struggling to find decent jobs and to get access to modern technology, they have limited access to adequate funds and capital, perhaps due to being trapped in a transitional period.
Ladies and gentlemen,
To date, at its crossroads, although globalization process has brought about numerous important positive developments in international affairs, emerging movements against globalization have already been felt. Global economic instability or recession combined with ethnic, religious, and cultural conflicts and irregular migration which have occurred during the past years have become contributing factors to the rise of hostility toward globalization. These movements have manifested through various forms of protests especially those against free trade or environmental concerns, among others. This has unavoidably led to protectionism whether related to trade or investment. This trend has become more apparent and has risen up to extreme nationalism, protectionism, or adopted restrictive measures on protection of market or application of various barriers, limits on goods and capital flows, among others. All this, has escalated concerns within the international community perplexing on how we should move forward and address these newly emerging challenges in the age of globalization.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Asia has been experiencing a rapid growth and remained a region of great diversity. Although development gap still exists, many countries in the region have achieved magnificent development success, so as it was said 21st Century is the Asian Century. However, there are still numerous countries being categorised as Least Developed Countries and the gap between the rich and the poor remains widening posing impediment and development challenge for Asia.
Moreover, economic growth of countries in Asia is mostly dependent on exporting to other regions. At a time when the global economy is unstable, purchasing power of European and American markets is fluctuating, stimulating domestic demand within the region in order to open up regional market are facing some constraints, such as restructure of manufacturing scheme, capital flow, division and movement of labor, among others. Likewise, emerging regional and international security concerns continue to pose major challenges to the maintenance of peace and hinder development and global poverty reduction efforts including the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Ladies and gentlemen,
At a time when regional and global environments have undergone complex political, security and economic challenges, Asia has adopted appropriate measures and various sub-regional and regional architectures, for instance the establishment of Asean Economic Community (AEC), ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), ASEAN+1, ASEAN+3, ADMM+, EAS, Mekong cooperation frameworks, among others, all of which have formed a solid foundation and provided important forums covering a wide range of areas aimed at finding appropriate solutions for addressing political and economic conflicts by peaceful means based on the principle of mutual benefits and at a pace comfortable to all or so-called “the Asean Way”.
In 2016 as Chair of ASEAN, the Lao PDR deployed its efforts to implement all Asean-initiated mechanisms and outcome documents were adopted in view of ensuring a dynamic ASEAN Community, taking an important part in the process of global integration. ASEAN will remain a driving force in all ASEAN-led mechanisms in cooperation with external partners. We urge the international community to continue supporting ASEAN in this endeavor.
In addition, in transition to a truly globalized world, the international community has established various international organizations and cooperation mechanisms and all of which have effectively carried out their mandates in adopting appropriate measures to strengthen coordination, cooperation, connectivity and integration in a competitive manner while learning from each other among all regions across the world, for instance ASEM, under which the Lao PDR had the honor to host its Summit in 2012 under the theme “ Friends for Peace, Partners for Development” which guided the discussions by leaders and achieved successful outcome. Furthermore, other mechanisms namely ACD, FEALAC, SAARC, APEC, SCO, EURASIA Economic Union, SADC, ECOWAS, MERCOSUR, NAFTA, G7, G20, BRICS, just to name some among the many important international and regional organizations, all of which are also of great importance in moving forward globalization process.
I am of the view that effective cooperation within the afore-mentioned mechanisms will bring about direct benefits to our region. Peace and security are prerequisite and essential for social-economic development. At the same time, economic development and improvement of people’s well-being will have positive impact on political stability and social order and helps reducing conflicts. These two factors are inter-linked and inseparable as they complement each other. On this note, Asia must underline the importance of peace, security and cooperation for mutual benefits and these issues should be put at the forefront. I am of the view that in the age of globalization and integration, Asia must work together in unison in the following areas:
Ladies and gentlemen,
The Lao PDR has endured decades of wars. Having witnessed the atrocities resulted by wars, peace has always been highly valued and cherished by the Lao people.Throughout the past 42 years during which Lao people have lived in the land of peace and stability, we firmly believe that only peaceful environment canform a fundamental ground for advancing national social and economic development. The achievement made throughout the past 42 years within the country is a result of solid unity and solidarity among our multi-ethnic people across the country. Nevertheless, without cooperation, support and assistance extended to us by all friendly countries and international organizations, particularly countries in Asia, especially Vietnam, China, and all other ASEAN member countries, such achievement would not have been possible.On a bilateral note, the Lao PDR highly values the consistent support and assistance exended to us by the Government and people of Japan in our national social-economic development. Through our strategic partnership, the Lao PDR firmly believes that the bilateral cooperation will be further enhanced and deepened.On this occasion, I would like to express my sincere thanks and heartfelt appreciation to all development partners for the valuable assistance accorded to us.
In the age of globalization and integration, the Lao PDR will continue to contribute, although playing a modest part, in the process of maintaining peace, promoting friendship and enhancing its open-door policy and we are looking forward to continued support and assistance, and increased foreign direct investments. The Lao PDR will do its utmost to fulfill its international obligations as member of the international and regional community. Likewise, the Lao Government will also continue to pursue its Vision 2030 and Strategy 2025 as well as its current five-year socio-economic development plan up to 2020 aiming at advancing the country towards attaining green economy and sustainable development goals. In this context, the Lao PDR has expeditiously mainstreamed 17 Sustainable Development Goals into its national development plans and adopted national SDG 18 (Lives safe from Unexploded Ordnance). The Lao PDR will create enabling environment for attaining its national development goals.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
I look at the world through an optimistic lense and I see Asia moving forward to a brighter future and witness 21st century a truly Asian century as Asia is endowed with great potentials in various aspects that will inevitably lead us ahead in a positive direction. Asia will continue to play an important part and be a driving force in the globalization process.
As we recall, in general Asia has fallen victim as a result of regional insecurity and conflicts occurred in different parts of the world. Nevertheless, throughout the years, Asia has been able to overcome and addressed regional challenges. Although having gone through bitter and difficult history of the past, the truth is that Asian are peace-loving nations and eagerly embrace sustainable development, the nations that care and share, and seek friendly relations with all countries across the globe. Asia will continue to pursue the path of globalization.
We, the humankind, cannot change any chapter already written in the history, but at least, we can draw the painful lessons we learnt from the past so we can improve ourselves today and prepare for a better future and this I believe, is best for us all.
I wish Asia all the very best and I also wish this 23rd International Conference a great success. Thank you for your kind attention and I welcome all comments and suggestions you may have.
(Once again Thank You.)