Editor's note: Seun Sam is a policy analyst of the Royal Academy of Cambodia. He wrote this piece exclusively for Tuoi Tre News.
As the 2022 ASEAN Chair, Cambodia oversees and expedites ASEAN's collective efforts to further economic integration and support an equitable, inclusive, competitive, and resilient recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.
The situation and outlook of the global economy are still precarious and prone to new crises and the five-decade bloc is still dealing with fresh and increasingly complex challenges that are emerging one after another in economic, social, environmental, and geopolitical aspects.
As this year's chair, Cambodia aims to demonstrate that ASEAN can advance the grouping's primary tenets of integration, social, cultural, economic, and political connectivity, which will help halt the spread of COVID-19 in the region and accelerate economic recovery there.
In order to increase its significance in the production chain system and to transform itself into a regional hub for investment, technology, and distribution, Cambodia also wants to encourage the integration of both physical and non-physical infrastructure, particularly digital. This will increase the country's economic potential.
Being the ASEAN chair this year, Cambodia is faced with a plethora of interwoven and growingly complex regional and global concerns, while ASEAN and the rest of the globe are at a turning point. International cooperation and multilateralism have never been more necessary than they are now in recent history. We can only move forward as a team if we work together to mobilize an action-oriented multi-stakeholder collaboration.
Prime Minister Hun Sen, the current ASEAN chair, called for enhanced vigilance on the current socio-economic condition and a dedication to ASEAN's motto, 'ASEAN: One Vision, One Identity, One Community,' as the 40th and 41st ASEAN Summits formally began in Phnom Penh. The summits went through November 13 and were followed by related gatherings.
The ASEAN Leaders' Statement on the 55th Anniversary of ASEAN was released at the summits, along with two additional statements adopted later: the ASEAN Leaders' Vision Statement on ASEAN A.C.T: Addressing Challenges Together and the ASEAN Leaders' Statement on ASEAN Connectivity Post-2025 Agenda.
These policy directives affirm ASEAN’s commitment to constructing the future of ASEAN as a community that is united, inclusive, resilient, and rules-based; a community that abounds in opportunities, where all people enjoy seamless connectivity, equitable economic development, a healthy environment, and equal social protection.
To promote ASEAN as an open, transparent, and inclusive area while upholding its 'Centrality' and 'Unity' in establishing international and regional ties, the bloc must continue adhering to the ideals of the multilateral trading system and promoting trade liberalization whereas all ASEAN countries have to strengthen defense and security cooperation based on the principle of not allowing any hostile force to use their respective territory to harm others' security and interests.
ASEAN must be attentive to dealing with the increasing issues of supply chain disruptions, global inflation spikes, skyrocketing food and energy prices, dramatically higher fertilizer costs, and mounting risks of recession in 2023.
ASEAN can work together more closely, respond to problems more effectively, and work toward regional prosperity as well as development in a free and peaceful environment. This is due to the region's governments and its business community's shared unity and resolve.
If ASEAN is fully confident and full trust exists between members, the grouping will continue to build upon the 'ASEAN spirit,' upholding responsibility and unity as we actively strive to work together to overcome obstacles and pave the way toward a brighter future for the common home that is ASEAN.
During the first day of the ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh City of Cambodia, there were many main achievements that were broadcast widely in the kingdom and in the region; for stance, ASEAN signed the TAC treaty with Ukraine and agreed in principle to allow Timor-Leste to become a new member and other positive factors that would be issued after the end of the summit. There are many current examples to prove the A.C.T. theme of ASEAN this year, for instance, the outbreak of COVID-19 in the world, the long issues of the [East Vietnam Sea], the crisis in Myanmar, and the war between Ukraine and Russia. Those crises need the real A.C.T. of the whole ASEAN members, not only individuals but all members must act together.
All in all, let ASEAN members concentrate on achieving the shared objective of mutual development for regional peace, stability, and improvement. The strong bonds were developed over many years of effort, dedication, and persistence rather than by accident.
Maintaining the unity, solidarity, and centrality is of the utmost importance in order for our region to remain sustainable and resilient through what lies ahead. ASEAN must treasure and be grateful for what they have built for the region.