Economic Cooperation and Development in Asia
Your Excellency， Premier Zhu Rongji，
The Chairman of the BFA Board of Directors，
Ladies and Gentlemen，
Let me， first of all， express my heartfelt gratitude for the honour accorded to me by inviting me to speak at this First Annual Conference of the Boao Forum for Asia today. I can not do better than echo even louder the many words of praise that have been expressed on how successful this forum has become. Please allow me to take this opportunity to congratulate Premier Zhu Rongji， the Government of the People's Republic of China and the Board of Directors for their foresight and leadership in launching this unique forum. Unique because rarely could businessmen， academics， government officials from so many Asian countries have a chance to meet， mingle， express and discuss freely in quest for prosperity， stability ， and security in Asia. All of us are proud to be part of this uniqueness.
When reference is made to economic cooperation and development in Asia， which I'm afraid， is also a theme of my talk today， Some of us just could not resist the feeling …here we go again！ We have heard the words “economic cooperation ” and “development” in Asia how many thousands times over， months after months， years after years， decades after decades. And so what？ …Has Asia developed？ Yes！ Have we cooperated economically？ Yes！ But do our people still suffer from poverty？ I'm afraid our answer remains…… Yes！ Are we still sometimes at each other's throat on trade and economic issues rather than cementing our cooperation？ Undeniably and unfortunately some of us stil1 are from time to time， one must admit. So why was that then？ Two things， at least. One for sure first and foremost， we just have not done enough for our people. By we， I mean both the business and private sectors， the government and public sectors， the academic and the NGO sectors. There is still so much more we have to do so that economic cooperation in the region will benefit our peoples to the optimum. Second1y， and by no means no less important， is that economic cooperation and development are not for preaching. They are to be practiced and implemented . There is no time for preaching.
Last month I was so glad I did make it to the UN International Conference on Financing for Development in Monterrey， Mexico. For one thing， the right to development is an issue so close to my heart. That right will never be realized without appropriate financing. I was there not only because of the kind invitation extended to me by both the UN Secretary-General and President Fox of Mexico but also because I wanted to have my share of contribution to make sure that the result of that conference would not be kept only on paper. Indeed， the ba1l has started rolling faster with the Monterrey Consensus with commitment to make development benefits for al1. And now with this forum taking p1ace and few other things I shall elaborate in a few moments， I hope we are about to enter into a more exciting arena of economic cooperation in Asia with expectation for the global and regional economic recovery and regional prosperity， a prospect as exhi1arating as the World Cup being hosted in Asia for the first time in six weeks！
First， I wish to refer to China's entry to the WTO. This is jubilant. This is indeed a tremendous and high1y promising occurrence not on1y for China's future but for Asia as a whole as well as for the rest of the developing wo11d. The Chinese economy has now emerged as one of the most dynamic economies on earth， with great potential for further growth and development. A rich China means a prosperous Asia.
But one very important precaution is heeded. In the g1obal trade regime， whi1e comparing with the rest of the world， the Asian economy， especially with China， may seem big. But in reality， what role has Asia played in defining the global economic and trade regulations. What influence， now with China in the WTO， can Asia insert upon the trade regulatory regime of the world？ How much contribution can we and must we make towards the new MTN round？
For so far， the Asian economies concentrate more on fighting against each other on price war and less on forging Asian unity. We all aspire to sell to the west and their markets. Price undercutting to compete in western markets hurts our farmers， our economies and in the long run do not help alleviate the suffering of the impoverished of our societies. We must learn to rely on each other and reinforce both intra and inter Asian trade. We must stand up and be counted as one to turn the world trade regulatory system into a fair regime for all. Trade barriers， tariff or non-tariff， unfair for the developing world， must be redressed to create a more equitable trade relationship in the world. As long as trade barriers are not eradicated， and as long as they are used to protect the domestic market， goods， products and industries of many countries， international trade could never help reduce poverty or bridge the poverty gap in developing countries. At the same time， instead of allowing non-tariff barriers， developed countries could consider turning some of their surplus wealth to acquiring products from developing countries and using these acquired goods to help some sectors of their population in need. In turn， this process would be beneficial to the developed countries themselves and to the redistribution of wealth globally. The WTO's special and differential and technical cooperation provisions must too be strengthened and effectively implemented.
On our part， we must do away with under-standard products by helping the producing countries to produce products to acceptable international standards. The implementation and development of MRA or Mutual Recognition Arrangements for products is a crucial key in ensuring standard of products. There is a great deal of cooperation in this field awaiting the Asian countries as well as the task of bringing about and convincing the western markets to the MRA programme. Asian nations must work together to ensure optimal synergy， in particular with smaller Asian economies. We must collaborate to ensure a level playing field in the upcoming trade negotiating round. I am confident that with China in WTO， her contribution will help bring about a more balanced world trade regime.
The world has changed. We are no longer in an “inside out” world but instead a world of “outside in”。 From running an economy and a country running a global and international organization， the “outside in” approach has become the most desirable way accomplish tasks and overcoming problems. The views and inputs of the clientele must be sought so that their expectation will be met. For the governments – public participation， the voice of the people must always be sought at every level of the process， from identification to resolution of the problems. For others – the inputs of their respective clientele r form an integral part of solving the problems in a world of “ outside in” approach. The world trade regime too must be affected by its members' input. We can see that even manufacturing these days also shifts from mass manufacturing to mass customization. Customers are at the center for manufacturing. Development policies too must place emphasis on the people as the center of the development process if firm foundation of self-sustainable economic development were to be laid.
As the word id changing， we in Asia must keep abreast with all these changes. We are countries rich in cultural heritage， home-grown skills， creativity， and natural resources that have been with us for so many centuries. If fully utilized， they would be our manufacturing advantages. A people–centred approach to development will draw on our respective inherent inner strengths while balancing greater self-reliance with liberalization. If only Asian nations were to cooperate more， communicate more and join more， they would realize and bring forth the vast pool of existing potentials to contribute towards a better Asia and a better world.
Next， let me touch on the question of 'globalization'. To some， the word and the concept of globalization are but awesome. To them globalization could mean a domination of one side of the globe over the other side， the strengthening if one part if the globe at the expense of the other， the one-sided flow of goods and investment from one part of the globe to the other part. This perception persists because globalization and economic cooperation and development have not adequately been translated into concrete terms. Globalization doesn't just mean free， unfettered trade in goods and services and liberal unlimited capital movement flows， but it embraces the concept that the countries of the world are totally in touch with one another at high speed with virtually no limitation of time and space. It means that all levels and dimensions of society in the global community are strengths and excellence of each society are in constant interaction， thereby nurturing and enhancing one another both positively and negatively.
Positively， such interaction could serve to enhance our lives and our standard of living. Negatively， though， we will see greater competition among countries for resources and markets. We in Asia must cooperate to negate this negative impact. Instead of viewing one another as competitors， in the ear of globalization we had better turn ourselves into potential partners for equitable mutual benefits. The process is not a zero-sum game， but one in which all can benefit in relative terms. And there are many avenues to explore to reap our mutual benefits.
So， Ladies and Gentlemen， that leads me to my next point. With more than half of the world's population， Asia's strengths are well recognized by other nations and regional blocs. Hence， we have such inter-regional framework of linkages such as APEC with the Pacific and those such as ASEM with Europe and FEALAC with Latin America. But an intra-Asian linkage has been missing and has yet to be created. Thus the wisdom of President Jiang and Premier Zhu Rongji in taking the initiative to create the Asia-wide Boao Forum for exchange of views of the Asian non-governmental sectors is to be highly commended. While the Boao Forum has turned into an annual conference and a proper venue for dialogues among executives from government， past and present， private sector， academic and civil society from the countries in the Asian region and will play an ever increasing role towards greater cooperation and development of Asia， the government sectors should lend all their support to help bridge firmly the missing link. On the national and government level， Asian nations themselves must find also a forum to create inter-Asian linkage to forge a constructive and dynamic cooperation based on our inner strengths of great diversity in human and natural resources. That is why I am convinced that there is a need for an Asia Cooperation Dialogue of ACD to serve as an open and informal forum for the exchange of views and experiences for the government sectors on issues of common interests between East Asia， West Asia， South and Southeast Asia. Both the ACD and the Boao Forum well serve as dual tracks， the ACD being track one （I） and the Boao as track two （II） complementing each other as non-institutional arrangements linking Asia-wide partnership that has long been missing. Both will help to become useful tools to create greater opportunities and trust as well as to eliminate obstacles among Asian partners.
Each and every Asian country will have a primary role to play in promoting Asia-wide cooperation. Through dialogue， ACD is aimed at enhancing every dimension of globalization for sustainable development. A strong and vibrant Asia would provide a stable platform for trade and Investment with the rest of the world. If agreeable to our partners， Thailand is ready to host the first ACD Foreign Ministers' meeting this year to exchange views in an informal manner on areas of mutual cooperation towards advancing the overall objectives of ACD.
Asia-wide cooperation would contribute to the promotion of peace and prosperity of the world at large. Through multi-tiered dialogues， networks and cooperation， we in Asia can work together with other regions as a better partner. We can together advance the commitments pledged at various international fora on sustainable development. The spirit of Monterrey needs to be fulfilled. It has provided a roadmap for more effective partnership and greater coherence at all levels to promote poverty eradication and sustainable development. The Mid-term Review Meeting of UNCTAD Ten， which Thailand will host at the end of this month， will provide the much needed momentum in the implementation of our commitments. From there on， when the leaders gather at the upcoming Johannesburg Summit on Sustainable Development， we hope that concrete measures will be embarked upon in order to make globalization and liberalization effective instruments for development. Such are an exciting set of the 2002 agenda lying ahead of us in Asia for economic cooperation and development. Let us make the best of it.
As we enter the early years of the Twenty-first Century， the repercussions to the world economy after the tragic incident late last year were catastrophic. Yet， let us live to turn catastrophe into new opportunities. From the gloomy prospects of a sharp world slowdown in economic growth， declining trade and investment growth prospects and recessionary contraction， let us live with optimism ye cautious for the recovery and improvement of the World economy. Such recovery will need to rise from a new landscape of international economic relations increasingly based on partnership and cooperation. Such landscape has been reinforced by China's accession to the WTO which opens an exciting new chapter for Asia economic dynamism. Historically， the Latin Americans may have the United States stand side by side… Africa may have the Europeans stand side by side in their economic cooperation and development. But we in Asia have only ourselves standing by each other to nurture a new era of economic cooperation and development. Ladies and Gentlemen， the agenda is set， the ball is rolling. It leaves only the players to start running. Let us reach out for the goal … the new horizon of Asia.