Speech by H.E. Yeap Samnang, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, the Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of Cambodia to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Overall, physical, institutional and people-to-people connectivity has promoted economic growth, narrowed the development game, enhanced regional competitiveness and promoted deeper ties among ASEAN people and between ASEAN and the rest of the world.”

Your excellencies, ambassadors, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. At the outset, I would like to express my deep thanks and high appreciation to the ASEAN Korea Center, especially to his excellency, Kim Hae-Yong, secretary general of the center, for inviting me to be part in this auspicious occasion. It is my great honour to be here with you today, to share some thoughts and update you on the development process of ASEAN connectivity at this 9 ASEAN connectivity forum with the theme working together for better connectivity.

The theme is really on the right time and in line with the theme of Cambodia chairmanship of ASEAN 2022. It has reflected our collective response, every attribute commitment to implementing effective measures to overcome the fundament among others, the support for implementation of the ASEAN comprehensive recovery framework and its implementation plan. Here, please allow me to share with you, the main idea of the theme that Cambodia has chosen for ASEAN chairmanship this year, ASEAN-ACT (Addressing Challenges Together). The theme underscores as inspiration togetherness as one community and the commonweal in our collective interval to address and overcome challenges versus our region.

Togetherness emphasise the action oriented approach of ASEAN that is based on openness, good faith, solidarity and harmony between the ASEAN family. Taking this opportunity on behalf of the Royal Government of Cambodia and ASEAN Connectivity Coordinating Committee Advocacy, I would like to express our sincere gratitude to co-organisers, the ASEAN Korea Center and International Contractors’ Association of Korea as well as the full support and cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea and the ASEAN Secretary for jointly organising this important forum. Your excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, may I recall that the ASEAN leaders issued the statement on ASEAN Connectivity on 24 October, 2009 emphasising the need to enhance intra-regional connectivity between ASEAN, that would benefit all ASEAN member states through enhanced trade investment tourism, people-to-people exchanges and development.

The first master plan on ASEAN connectivity was adopted in 2010 to connect ASEAN through the three dimensions of physical connectivity, institutional connectivity and people to people connectivity. Overall, physical, institutional and people-to-people connectivity has promoted economic growth, narrowed the development game, enhanced regional competitiveness and promoted deeper ties among ASEAN people and between ASEAN and the rest of the world. Strong and wide brand connectivity is essential to ASEAN thrive towards becoming a more competitive and resilient region, that is firmly integrated into global economy. The master plan on ASEAN Connectivity Impact 2025, which was adopted in September 2016, is more focused and more absent oriented. Through the Impact 2025, we aim to connect the ten ASEAN member states with the five subject areas namely sustainable infrastructure, digital innovation, seamless logistics, regulatory excellence and people mobility.

Since its adoption, the implementation of Impact 2025 has progressed as the advocacies engagement and coordination has intensified with the lead implementing bodies national or national vocal cords and relevant ASEAN central bodies. Also, engagement with external Impact 2025, key stakeholders, ASEAN dialogue partners and other regional partners, multilateral organisations’, development banks, subregional organisations and private sector has expanded and strengthening. Today, 14 out of 15 initiatives under the Impact 2025 are in implementation phase with encouraging progress. At the same time, we also noted the challenges of some projects such as long internal process of supporting dialogue partners, considerable time required for stakeholder consultations and capacity of implementing agencies in a consultancy firm. Scope of some projects has been adjusted to ensure they remain relevant to address emerging issues which have affected the timeliness of these projects. Despite challenges caused by the evolving Covid-19 situation, advocacy in close coordination with the key stakeholders has continued to exert effort in ensuring city progress in the implementation of Impact 2025. The advocacy has also engaged with ASEAN partners to deliver existing cooperation projects and explore potential for our projects to advance the implementation of Impact 2025. In this connection, I would like to convey our high appreciation to the Republic of Korea for its active contribution to the implementation of Impact 2025 and I look forward to its continued support in this regard.

Your excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, let me highlight some of the notable progress and possible advocacy deliverables for 2022, under the five strategic areas of Impact 2025, among others. On subject area of sustainable infrastructure namely, first, commencement of already in and out of projects from the initial ruling priority fine line of passive infrastructure projects and second, loans of report on the state of organisation international. Our strategic area of digital innovation, there was development of an assessment report to develop a diagnostic tool to access micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and second, laws of ASEAN open data, recently. Our strategic area of similar logistics includes first, completion of the framework on ASEAN supply chain efficiency and resilient and supply chain analysis of 10 specific product groups and second, socialisation of the framework and database. Our strategic area of regulatory excellence is to complete a handbook as a guideline to use the methodologies in conducting ex and regulatory preview on track and teams and for strategic area of people mobility such as completion of mobility 2-1 qualification and standards and tool to internship and faculty exchange guidelines and the loans of student internship and faculty exchange and the last, study on graduate employability honors in the contribution of student mobility.

Through the Impact 2025, we aim to connect the ten ASEAN member states with the five subject areas namely sustainable infrastructure, digital innovation, seamless logistics, regulatory excellence and people mobility.

As one of Cambodia’s new deliverable of 2022, we will also propose as a leader statement on ASEAN Connectivity post 2025. Reason, this statement aims to chart out the reason to enhance ASEAN Connectivity beyond the Impact 2025, encompassing synergies between up-todate developments and past lessons and experiences.

In spite of many good achievements that have been made, there is also more work remaining to be done such as mobilisation of the potential resources to finance the primary projects and programs. The urgent need is to find out a good way and means to disseminate the projects and programs to all relevant stakeholders and donors for their supports. The conversation from key actors under the Impact 2025 into the project is a very important step forward and more impetuous in utilising the ASEAN community, therefore, I strongly encourage all relevant stakeholders with the support of the ASEAN Secretariat to continue upholding such vital works in order that all the strategic areas and initiatives under the impact 2025 would be smoothly converted into the doable and implementable projects.

As we all are aware of the risk for infrastructure investment in our ASEAN region are more than $100 billion, this is one of the examples. If such amounts of money are to be raised policymakers need to mobilise all the potential sources of capital and consider innovative schemes for infrastructure financing, particularly those involving the private sector. As clearly I identify, in the Impact 2025, a public-private partnership (PPP) is a significant approach. Effective PPP development requires effective regulatory and strategic structure to be influenced, therefore, the existing legal frameworks which may have an impact or effects on the PPP projects should be adjusted and reinforced.

We agreed with the recommendation as content in the final report of the midterm review of Impact 2025 that the Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated the ability of Impact 2025, in adapting to changing circumstances. Current and new projects are adjusted and designed to make into account the impacts of Covid-19 and the changing trends to support recovery from the country and will recently get future pandemics. However, its initiative requires development of different specific approaches and implementation. Cross learning from implementation of instincts and projects as well as established engages between institute can create synergies and optimise resources for better outcomes. The need for system cross-central and cross-pillar engagement and coordination with key Impact 2025 stakeholders, it’s clear to achieve better outcome, we agreed that such an effort need to be translated into greater ownership, better alignment with the work and priority of the relevant ASEAN central bodies as well as stronger in country coordination to ensure sustainability of deliverables of Impact 2025, the ASEAN connectivity agenda beyond 2025.

In order to address this challenge, the advocacy considered the scope framework presented by the ASEAN secretary which serves as a guide in implementing Impact 2025 initiatives through ensuring the sustainability of initiatives enhancing coordination certainly ownership mobilising internal and external resources and deepening engagement with stakeholders and partners. Following the endorsement of the midterm review of Impact 2025, the advocacy has developed a work plan to implement the recommendation of the midterm review 2021 to 2025.

The advocacy agreed to develop a concept note on the workshop to brainstorm and sell best practices among lead implementing bodies, the relevant ASEAN central bodies, and national focal points to strengthen coordination and national implementation of Impact 2025 as well as to discuss the connectivity projects ideas with relevant ASEAN central bodies. Advocacy also discussed ways to establish the ASEAN connectivity with dialogue partners and other partners working with them. Your excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, finally, may I wish you success in deliberation and a change of visuals for the sixth of finding the way as the key recommendation on how ASEAN connectivity can contribute and play an important role in supporting the region rebuilding and recovery efforts as well as on how to enhance ASEAN connectivity towards an inclusive, sustainable and resilient ASEAN community.

With my strong anticipation, the forum visually, fruitfully and successfully conducted to meet its objectives and to realise our utmost goal in order to enhance better connectivity and more consolidated the strategic partnership between ASEAN and Republic of Korea. I thank you for your kind attention.