ACD Ambassadorial Retreat
2 July 2002, 11.00-12.15 hrs.
Bua Keow Room, Ministry of Foreign Affairs


  Permanent Secretary Tej Bunnag
Thank you for coming to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs once again. Since our meeting in Cha-Am, Deputy Permanent Secretary has already met with you. I do not want to repeat what has been said. Nevertheless I wish to thank all of you once again for your representation and participation in the meeting in Cha-Am, which was a success beyond all expectations. The participants were able to reach a level of comfort far more rapidly than expected. I would like to thank you again for entrusting us with the task as ACD coordinator for the next 12 months. In Cha-Am we have set the date of 20-21 June for the next meeting in Chiang Rai. So thank you all again for coming to the ambassadorial retreat. I have the pleasure to host lunch afterwards.
The objectives of the meeting today is to ask you whether you have received from your capitals any feedback or general impressions on the first ACD meeting, any suggestions on the process of the ACD framework for the next 12 months. Another objective of the meeting is to establish networking among us.
Just before the meeting started, the Brunei Ambassador asked me whether there are any agendas for the meeting today. The answer is we have not prepared any agenda for today. I would like to reaffirm that ACD belongs to all participating countries. This applies to all ambassadors here. It belongs to all of us equally. I would like to emphasize that it is an inclusive, evolving, informal and non-institutionalized process. We would like to listen to you as much as possible and as a reminder to keep up the momentum. We only have 11 months left before the next meeting. If any of you have anything to say, I wish to invite and welcome you to take the floor.

 Charge d'Affaires Nafees Zakaria (Pakistan)
Thank you for inviting us to express our views. The feedback from my capital generally assessed the ACD meeting last month a success. The meeting received 100% response from the countries invited. The discussions on the areas of cooperation were very much relevant in all contexts. The meeting agreed that ACD has 2 components; the dialogue component which is informal and non-institutionalized, and the project component.
I wish to suggest that the project component must be formal and institutionalized without which it can not be achieved. We can think of something similar to international standardization of products. We have indirectly and directly looked upon what the European Union has achieved, which can also be a target of the ACD. In this context the concept of value added and development chains must be an institutionalized arrangement with a view to keeping up with diversities and different levels (very high and very low) of outputs, and bridging the existing gaps in Asia. My personal suggestion is that this could be done in the form of ISO Asian standard. This is in line with ACD's evolving process which every present ACD country as well as future members could provide information on their leading industries and products to be standardized by groups of experts. This requires a certain amount of details, which could be further discussed. As for the prime movers, any country can be the prime mover in one area. A country can also be the prime mover in more than one area particularly in the provision of expertise.

  Permanent Secretary Tej Bunnag

Thank you very much for opening the floor and reminding us of the 2 components of ACD, namely dialogue and project components. Thank you for your suggestion that the project component should be institutionalized. In our way of thinking, Foreign Ministers started off with the dialogue part and in 12 months they will resume the dialogue part again. In the meantime, I think that prime movers would be the leader in the dialogue and project parts of the subjects they are interested. For example, Pakistan could become the prime mover in Asian ISO subject.
Thailand will dispatch Thai ACD people from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at various levels on visits to ACD capitals to discuss this matter and see if any ACD capitals will be prime movers in any areas of cooperation. In Cha-Am meeting, Bangladesh's Foreign Minister was very much interested in poverty alleviation, Singaporean Foreign Minister in SMEs, Japanese Foreign Minister in cooperation for prosperity and non-traditional security issues, Malaysian Foreign Minister in global fund for development. Therefore, once we will have gotten over AMM/PMC, we would dispatch ACD officials to ACD capitals to discuss these issues.

 Ambassador Hemayet Uddin (Bangladesh)
Thank you for inviting us to follow up. I would like to say that ACD was a great success. My Foreign Minister had briefed our government on what was achieved in Cha-Am. The response was very positive. Bangladesh would like to be associated with ACD. What was achieved were small steps. The questions concerning ACD's basic ideas and how to identify areas of cooperation should be further discussed. We are waiting for that before we come up with concrete plans. As far as poverty alleviation is concerned, Bangladesh has made successful experiments.

  Permanent Secretary Tej Bunnag
Thank you. As I have mentioned earlier, we're sending ACD teams to your capitals at the latest August / September this year.

 Ambassador Atsushi Tokinoya (Japan)

Thank you very much. The feedback from our capital is rather general. Tokyo appreciates and supports Thailand's initiative in launching ACD. Foreign Ministers' initial meeting was successful. Nevertheless, it is not easy to see how this process will further evolve in years to come. On the one hand, the 2 components will continue. On the other hand, it is difficult to identify areas of cooperation among ACD countries. It might take time before we could identify areas of cooperation. Tokyo hopes that Thailand will continue to lead ACD process and identify specific areas of cooperation. I welcome Thailand's sending ACD teams to ACD capitals.

  Permanent Secretary Tej Bunnag
The idea of ACD components very much belongs to Foreign Minister Kawaguchi. I'll travel to Japan on 12 July 2002 and will further discuss this matter with my Japanese colleagues.

 Ambassador Yan Ting-ai (China)
China is satisfied with the achievements made by the first ACD Foreign Ministerial Retreat and regards the meeting an overall success. China will continue to support the development of ACD.
For the priority areas of ACD cooperation, Chinese Foreign Minister, Mr. Tang Jiaxuan, has already pointed out clearly that from the reality and need of the Asian countries, agriculture, information industry, infrastructure, trade and investment, tourism and human resource development can be the key areas. Of course China's position on this issue is flexible and open, China will also make positive studies on the reasonable proposals made by other countries concerned.
As for the geographical coverage of ACD membership, China holds that a too large scale of ACD members is not feasible during the initial stage, and the recruitment of new members should be conducted in proper sequence. ACD may be composed by countries mainly from east and south Asia while also taking in some other Asian countries as well. The participation of non-Asian countries should be given careful consideration and now it does not seem to be the right time.
China now is undertaking a study on presiding over one or two cooperative areas, and the preliminary idea is that China may sponsor one or two personnel exchange programmes to promote mutual understanding among ACD countries. Meanwhile, China is working on how to bring BOAO Forum for Asia (BFA) into play to support the development of ACD. BFA is planning to hold a "Boao Asia Tourism Conference" in Guilin, Guangxi Province this November and China is thinking of inviting ACD members concerned to join in the conference.

  Permanent Secretary Tej Bunnag
Thank you. From the beginning, the Prime Minister envisages ACD and Boao Forum for Asia to be parallel processes. In Prime Minister's keynote speech, there is a linkage between ACD and Boao Forum. Therefore, the Chinese invitation for ACD countries to participate in the Boao Asia Tourism Conference is very much in line with the direction of ACD. Today one country is missing, namely Bahrain. I'll instruct our Ambassador in Kuwait to go to Bahrain to brief the Bahrainis as soon as possible.
Thank you for raising the question of geographical coverage of ACD. At the initial stage, there was an idea of setting up a core group. But at the end we came up with this number of 18 countries. Since the ACD meeting, there have been at least 3 West Asian countries, which approached us to be invited to participate in ACD, and we will let you know of the coming talks. As you have noted from the Chairman's Statement which can be considered as the guiding principle on geographical coverage, ACD is inclusive and Asia-wide. We take note of your suggestions that if there are too many participants, it will be unmanageable and instead, should be taken step by step and we will closely consult with you on geographical coverage. Also, if there is a SOM, China would support it. We would like to repeat that as far as political leadership is concerned, ACD is a top-down process, which is a matter of political leadership to set the political agenda for a political dialogue. The politicians may not want this dialogue to be like other dialogues that are very bureaucratic.

 Ambassador Choi Hyuck (South Korea)
We have received broad and general feedback from our capital. We also congratulate the Thai government in launching the ACD. A broad consensus for participation in the meetings is needed. The real question is how to proceed. For the time being, ideas are being floated, and we welcome the Thai initiative to send a team to various capitals between August and September 2002 and would like to receive the scheduled visits and discuss with officials and maybe prepare reference papers. Today's discussions is to pick up the ideas expressed. There should clearly be a roadmap if we don't have the process of a SOM. The next process would be to evaluate our consultations on how to identify areas of cooperation, and initiate prime movers on this. A working model of the APEC process is the APEC initiative on monetary and fiscal arrangements which our ACD should be complimentary to this. For ACD, the projects should be feasible and only one or two projects are enough.
On geographical coverage, ACD should eventually expand to cover all Asian countries, but we have to determine by what steps. South Korea look forward to meeting with Thai ACD team, and discussing on the IT sector and particularly HRD.

  Permanent Secretary Tej Bunnag
Thank you for the intervention. On how to expand ACD and roadmap of the ACD, as far as Thailand is concerned, for the month of July 2002, we have arranged follow-up sessions and briefed the rest of the diplomatic corps. In August - September 2002 we will be dispatching senior ACD representatives to engage with our counterparts on follow-up actions. I will be in Tokyo on 12 July and will start on the follow-ups straightaway, and the Thai team will visit all ACD countries by August-September. Also, perhaps ACD Foreign Ministers could meet for a working breakfast or lunch at the UNGA in New York to follow up on Madame Kawaguchi's on regular dialogues and exchanges.
In addition, the Thai Foreign Ministry will be constructing an ACD website, www.acd.go.th, which will be launched as soon as possible, and we will inform you when it is ready so that we can receive views and comments as fast as possible. Our political leaders want to do without the SOM, through e-government, e-contact, therefore, we will open the website as soon as possible, and avoid working groups as much as possible.

Ambassador Do Ngoc Son (Vietnam)
Thank you for the invitation today. We have received feedback regarding the results of ACD, and the Vietnamese government supports the ACD and highly appreciates the efforts of Thailand in hosting this first ACD meeting. The participation at the Ministerial level at the Meeting demonstrates the interest of all our countries and the necessity in pushing Asian cooperation into full play for our benefits. The success of the first ACD Meeting urges us to take further steps to advance new dialogue channels which will compliment and enrich the mechanisms in Asia for the benefits of all Asians.
Concerning areas of cooperation, Vietnam believes that given ACD cooperation, we should compliment the existing mechanisms of dialogues and see how to compliment these existing mechanisms. Focus is needed on economic cooperation which is the top priority of our national agenda. There are differences in levels of development in the region, therefore, attention should be given to less developed countries on how to narrow the gap.
On the matter of proceeding with the ACD, ACD should be conducted step by step and be open to all Asians to join in and to do this, ACD members should carefully consider this matter, but should keep this open to all. Vietnam appreciates Thailand sending mission to capitals within the next 12 months.

  Permanent Secretary Tej Bunnag
Thank you for your comments and agree completely on the project side of the ACD which should not be a duplication of what has already been done in other fora such as ASEAN, ASEAN+3 and ESCAP. We should be complimentary to what has already been done. The key words still come from the ACD theme given at Cha-Am, "How to consolidate our strengths?" which captures the whole purpose of the ACD dialogue. Foreign Ministers Kawaguchi of Japan and Foreign Minister Jayakumar of Singapore have emphasized that to date Asia has only sub-regional organizations and linkages between sub-regions. ACD will be the missing link where all sub-regional links are linked together, which is a great innovation would be a great elevation of the ACD and is what we are working on now.

 Ambassdor L.K. Ponappa (India)
The substantial feedback on ACD from our Finance Minister who took part in Cha-Am and will be taking on the role of Foreign Minister and based on the feedback received afterwards, is that ACD is an important and useful beginning in setting us the challenging task of finding a unique role for ourselves in Asia. We need to avoid duplication and should compliment what is already being done. India is supportive of the ACD and looks forward to a Thai team arriving New Delhi for consultations. Our Minister had emphasized the need for ACD to set overarching economic goals including elimination of poverty through measures for infrastructure development, energy cooperation, education and HRD. We should try to be creative in addressing these concerns. We support the need for a roadmap, pending which networking could begin. We are ready to receive the Thai team. It will help to bring focus and assist ACD to define its role. We are convinced that ACD has to be inclusive as its purpose could otherwise come into question. Therefore, the move towards being inclusive is important. Lastly, we would like to express our appreciation of the initiative to hold an informal dialogues here.

  Permanent Secretary Tej Bunnag
I will be in Japan on 12 July, Hanoi on 3 August and meeting with my counterpart on 7 August, therefore, I will be starting on the ACD follow-up sessions during these dates.

Ambassador Dato' Syed Norulzaman (Malaysia)
I would like to share the general but positive impression of my capital on the results of the first ACD Meeting, which are positive. The first ACD meeting was a successful session, which is a good beginning of what we are trying to achieve. The general consensus is to avoid duplication and to compliment existing frameworks whilst having an incremental and step by step approach. We are glad to hear that Thailand is sending a team between August and October 2002 as we need advice and wish to have a better understanding of the process. Apart from the consultations that we are having now among ourselves, we also need the consultation process within the capital too which is an important aspect. Tomorrow the ACD process will start in Malaysia as formal submission of the meeting in Cha-Am will be made then.
Malaysia is interested in the ACD on three areas : e-commerce, fund for global development, and fund for poverty alleviation in Asia. The ACD meeting in UNGA will receive good response from KL since it was also our own thinking in Cha-Am. What we should focus on is how to link the sub-regional organizations of which there are organizations that already have common projects and we should therefore look to whatever is common as may be a way to link these sub-regional organizations.

  Permanent Secretary Tej Bunnag
I believe that all of our Foreign Ministers will be New York for UNGA for the week starting 16 September. I would like to conclude that ACD is an evolving process and belongs to all. That is why you are all invited here and we appreciate your sparing the time to come. From time to time your cooperation will be needed, and I wish to be able to invite you all to such a retreat again if you do not mind and hope that you will accept my invitation. Thank you very much.



Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Thailand
2 July 2002


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