25 November 2020

Opening Remarksby H.E. Dr. Sok SiphanaSenior Advisor to the Royal Government of CambodiaChair of the ACMECS SOM Meeting and Related Meetings6 May 2019, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Opening Remarks

by H.E. Dr. Sok Siphana

Senior Advisor to the Royal Government of Cambodia

Chair of the ACMECS SOM Meeting and Related Meetings

6 May 2019, Siem Reap, Cambodia


Excellency Vilawan Mangklatanakul, Director General of International Economic Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand and Dear Co-Chair

Excellencies Colleagues of ACMECS countries

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,


On behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia, it is my honor to welcome all of you to Cambodia to attend the ACMECS SOM Meeting, the 1st Coordinating Committees’ Meeting, and the 2nd Senior Finance Officials’ Meeting. I am glad that Cambodia has the opportunity to host these meetings in Siem Reap, our Cultural Capital of Angkor, and I sincerely hope that you will take some time to visit the Khmer historical and cultural heritages.

I need to admit that it was quite challenging to fix the dates for our meetings. That is why I want thank our ACMECS colleagues for their good coordination and flexibility for this current arrangements. This spirit of cooperation will certainly be very conducive as we hold our discussions for the next two days. Indeed, our joint and collaborative endeavor will no doubt produce the necessary tangible to ensure a good outcomes for the upcoming ACMECS Foreign Ministerial Meeting and the 9th ACMECS Summit, which will be tentatively held in August 2019 and January 2020 respectively.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The seed of ACMECS was planted at the Special ASEAN Summit on SARS in Bangkok in 2003 and its full ACMECS membership was completed when Vietnam joined in 2004 At that time, our Leaders’ motivation was simple and straightforward: “to bridge the economic gap in the region, and to promote prosperity in a sustainable manner”.

With that Vision in place as anchored by the Bagan Declaration and the Economic Cooperation Strategy Plan of Action, ACMECS has made its way, humbly as I may say, to define its “raison d’être” amidst the proliferation of other Mekong Sub-region cooperation frameworks. Fast-forward to the present time, and thanks to the initiative of Thailand, we have made a bolder move to formulate the ACMECS Master Plan (2019-2023), which is regionally designed and “home-grown” based on the common achievements as well as trials-and-errors of more than a decade long journey of sub-regional cooperation.

This home-grown vision, I believe, is to a great extent driven by a strong spirit of self-reliance and ownership of the sub-region inasmuch as from the imperative to interact with other Mekong sub-regional frameworks that have offered on the one hand development complementarities while on the other hand exerted inevitable, but quite understandable, pressures for subregional influence.

The adoption of the Bangkok Declaration and ACMECS Master Plan last year did send a clear and unequivocal message to the world that sustainable economic development undergirded by peace and stability, good neighborliness, and friendship is what the ACMECS region really aspires and wants to have the most.

Under the vision “Building ACMECS CONNECT by 2023”, the ACMECS Master Plan comprises 3 inspiring goals: (1) “Seamless ACMECS” aiming at completing  the missing infrastructures and transportation links, the development of digital infrastructure, and the interconnectivity of energy networks; (2) “Synchronized ACMECS Economies,” aiming at harmonizing trade and investment rules as well as financial cooperation; and (3) “Smart and Sustainable ACMECS,” focusing on human resources development and application of modern technology in strategic areas such as environment, agriculture, tourism, public health, development of Smart Cities and cyber-security. A Smart and Sustainable ACMECS implies of course the imperative to promote environmental cooperation in water resources management, energy efficiency and renewable energy, and climate change mitigation and disaster risk management.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Connectivity is one of the key buzzwords and I wish to echo a coined phrase that says, we should try to “connect the connectivity.” For example, in our Master Plan, we have set a very bold and ambitious goal to move goods through the East West Economic Corridor down to within approximately 30 hours, instead of over 5 days as per current practices.


The ambition to build a more connected “Mekong Community” is an imperative from many perspectives, if we are to reckon with the emerging challenges posed by slow recovery of the global economy, the growing trend of trade protectionism and anti-globalization inasmuch as the rise of non-traditional threats such as transnational crimes, cross border infectious diseases, climate change related natural disasters, and environmental degradation.

Moreover, uncontrollable and unexpected external factors have incentivized ACMECS to speed up and consolidate its cooperation. To be precise, the increased intensity of the trade war between the two Superpowers as well as other regional geo-political and geo-strategic competition have added additional pressures for the region to strengthen and secured unity and hedge the risks of external shocks.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Our Leaders’ commitment is clearly anchored by the vision set forth in the Bangkok Declaration and our path is well reflected in the ACMECS Master Plan. As such our main tasks for the next two days are to work on the nuts and bolts. As we always says “the devil is in the details”. 

Cambodia is supportive in principle of the initiative of Thailand on the establishment of the ACMECS Fund, and ACMECS Infrastructure Fund and Trust. It is our task now to deliberate and study more on the mechanism, structure, feasibility, and the terms of references for these Funds.

So far, we have agreed on the List of Prioritized Projects. We have also finalized the List of First Batch of Development Partners as well as prepared the groundwork for engaging with new potential Development Partners to garner their financial and technical support. As these works fell mostly under the purview of our respective Ministry of Finance, and we have entrusted the ACMECS’ senior finance officials to provide us progress updates towards the establishment of the ACMECS Fund.

In fact, to fully and effectively implement on what have been agreed and to move ACMECS forward, at the last ACMECS Summit, my Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen have raised the following two points: First, he stressed on the important role of the private sector in stimulating development and he encouraged the utilization of the Public Private Partnership modalities to address the resources mobilization challenges, especially throughout the entire transport value chain, ranging from physical infrastructure development, logistic system enhancement, trade facilitation, and the development of Special Economic Zones.

Secondly, he highlighted the importance of strengthening cooperation in the Trade, Investment and Industry nexus among the ACMECS countries so as to reinforce the regional supply chains in the subregion as well as to harness the new technology advancements that could generate sustainable growth for our respective economy.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I have great expectations that our meetings for the next two days will deliver tangible outcomes, upon which we could use to ensure that the upcoming Foreign Ministerial Meeting in August 2019 and the 9th ACMECS Summit in 2020 will be crowned with success.

Last but not least, let me reiterate Cambodia’s commitment as well as my personal commitment to reinforce the ACMECS mechanism for the sake of peace, sustainable development and enhanced prosperity of the region.  

Let me wish the meeting a productive discussion. Thank you!