Myanmar - a natural part of ASEAN

Update: 09:40 | 08/08/2020
TGVN. ASEAN and Myanmar need each other to fulfill their interests. Simply saying, our forefather's vision of pursuing regionalism in Southeast Asia could not be complete without the involvement of Myanmar.
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Myanmar - a natural part of ASEAN
Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc (R) received Ambassador of Myanmar to Vietnam Kyaw Soe Win.

Promoting regional peace and stability

Myanmar, being one of the countries in mainland Southeast Asia and its geographical location makes it a natural part of the Association. In fact, Myanmar's bond with ASEAN goes beyond the context of geographical proximity. Visions, norms and values, policy directions led the regional countries to work together as a grouping.

Policies of neutrality, non-aligned and maintaining friendly relations with all nations particularly its neighbors continues to be the bedrock of Myanmar's foreign policy in conducting relations with the nations far and near. General Aung San, the architect of Myanmar's independence highlighted the need for a regional organization to achieve peace and progress as well as strategic and economic affinity in his public speech in 1946. His idea for regional cooperation predates the time when European Countries have yet to talk about forming the Union.

The principles enshrined in the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC) such as non-interference in the internal affairs, constructive engagement, and the endurance of ASEAN consensus largely attracted Myanmar to join ASEAN. In 1997, Myanmar became a full member of ASEAN while attaining a regional identity and recognition.

Myanmar's experience of ASEAN chairmanship in 2014 provides a great impetus for the country to contribute more actively in achieving the visions and missions of the ASEAN Community. To come together as one with ASEAN Community, Myanmar's domestic policies and goals are closely aligned with regional goals of maintaining regional peace and promoting socio-economic development of ASEAN citizens. For instance, Myanmar Sustainable Development Plan has been structured in such a way that it complements the ASEAN's Community building efforts, particularly the action lines of the ASEAN Economic Community.

Myanmar attaches great importance to the role of ASEAN in promoting regional peace and stability. Therefore, it is actively contributing to the implementation of the action lines under the Blue Print of ASEAN Political and Security Community through adhering to and promoting the principles for harmonious inter-state relations enshrined in the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC) for ASEAN Member States and its external parties.

As the challenges to regional security go beyond traditional threats of nuclear and armaments, Myanmar values ASEAN's active work in areas of transnational crimes, counter-terrorism, cybercrimes, maritime security, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief exercises in addition to the defense and military cooperation, implementation of the Treaty on the Southeast Asia Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone (SEANWFZ Treaty),' pursuing preventive diplomacy and confident building measures of ASEAN Regional Forum.

As ASEAN is entering the phase of regional integration, Myanmar would be working closely with ASEAN Member States for collective voice and coordinated responses to emerging geostrategic shifts and increasing global uncertainties so as to promote regional peace and progress while delivering benefit to ASEAN citizens.

Finding innovative ways to overcome challenges

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Myanmar is in full support of Viet Nam's 2020 ASEAN theme “Cohesive and Responsive ASEAN” as it highlights the importance of unity and timely action for the ASEAN Community in moving forward. Key priorities set by Viet Nam for maintaining regional peace, stability and security; promoting regional economic integration and connectivity as well as an effective response to the 4IR; promoting ASEAN identity and sense of community; enhancing partnership for peace and sustainable development; and strengthening ASEAN's institutional capacity, are most relevant and important for achieving ASEAN Community vision 2025.

Although 2020 is full of challenges and uncertainty, Myanmar believes that ASEAN would find innovative ways to go ahead with planned activities and programs. As scheduled activities such as Mid-Term Review of the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and the corresponding Community Blueprints and brainstorming discussions for a Post-2025 ASEAN Vision are strategic in nature and significant in practice, Myanmar hopes these be delivered under Viet Nam's Chairmanship.

Likewise, strengthening and setting the future direction of ASEAN-led mechanisms, including the East Asia Summit (EAS) and ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) are also important. In this respect, Myanmar is optimistic that the review of the ARF processes, procedures, practices, and protocols is successfully formulated and ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) Ha Noi Plan of Action II (2021- 2025) is adopted during 2020.

In 2020, ASEAN Community is preparing itself ready for 4 Industrial Revolution (4IR), Myanmar expects greater sharing and exchanges among regional countries on experiences, challenges and opportunities in preparing respective societies and economies ready for the 4IR.

Myanmar, as the chair of the Task Force of the Initiative for ASEAN Integration in 2020, is leading the collective efforts to formulate a new IAI work. Plan. We expect that the new IAI Work Plan be produced in a timely manner helping to expedite regional integration through narrowing the development gaps among ASEAN Member States.

Making a greater commitment for cooperation

The year 2020 is an important juncture as it is a mid-point to ASEAN Vision 2025 and a target point of ASEAN's 2020 Visions charted out in 1997. The year also witness fast-changing geo-economic, geo-political and technological landscape. COVID-19 outbreak is also adding to growing uncertainties in the year 2020. Covid-19's long socio-economic shadow would also be a significant factor to take into consideration in planning for post-pandemic ASEAN. ASEAN needs a major assessment considering possible hurdles in achieving priority areas for Vision 2025 and targeted actions lines under the blueprints of the three Community Pillars.

ASEAN leaders’ articulation of the ASEAN outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP) is an important political achievement with practical areas for cooperation. Myanmar looks forward that AOIP and its four areas of cooperation garner broader supports from external partners and practical way forward. And principles enshrined in AOIP ultimately will help bridging the trust deficit and help turning competition into cooperation.

Myanmar foresees that ASEAN in the future may need to redouble its efforts towards inclusive and sustainable development Challenges in these efforts are not insignificant. However, timely actions on ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint 2025 including new focus areas such as Global Value Chains (GVCS), Good regulatory practice, sustainable development, global megatrends and emerging trade-related issues, would help ensure the sustainability of the regional economies and inclusiveness for more equitable distribution of prosperity.

Myanmar wishes to see the full and effective implementation of the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity (MPAC) 2025. The MPAC 2025 with its focus on sustainable infrastructure, digital innovation, seamless logistics, regulatory excellence, and people mobility, is an important vehicle to lift up ASEAN peoples' lives and works while fulfilling its promise of 'ASEAN: A Community of Opportunity for All'.

Myanmar also expects regional countries continue to make greater commitment to deepen cooperation in areas of the digital economy and e-commerce making the best use of the ASEAN Framework on Digital Data Governance, the ASEAN Agreement on Electronic Commerce and ongoing works on ASEAN Innovation Roadmaps and Guidelines on Human Resource Development in Response to the 4IR.

Through greater collective commitments, stronger dedication and better-coordinated actions, Myanmar firmly believe, that the visions for cohesive, inclusive and resilient ASEAN Community be realized in the near future.

Lao highly appreciates Viet Nam’s role as ASEAN Chair

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Kyaw Soe Win

Ambassador of Myanmar to Vietnam