From ASEAN to China – Youths Embark on 3-Week Cultural Trail, ASEAN Secretariat, 25 November 2010
Thailand, Myanmar and China set the scenery recently for a three-week cultural trail for 39 youths from ASEAN and China. The trip is part of ASEAN and China’s move to promote awareness about the two-way relations and friendship among the youth.
The group set off on 18 November from Chiang Rai, Thailand, where they learned about ASEAN and China’s shared history in opium and tea during their visits to the Hall of Opium/Golden Triangle Park and Choke Chamroen Tea Plantation and Factory. They also learned how the Sustainable Alternative Livelihood Development (SALD) model has reformed the livelihoods of the people of the mountainous area of Doi Tung. The group also joined in the festivity of Loy Krathong (a local festival honouring the Goddess of Water). They also participated in a lively discussion on the future of ASEAN and China youths and how they can help to promote the relationship between the two sides.
The group has now moved on to Yangon, Myanmar, where, from 23 to 28 November, they will be introduced to traditional food making, dances, musical instruments, paintings and sculptures. They will also visit the National Theatre and National Museum.
The three-week trail will end in Kunming, China. From 28 November to 3 December, the group will participate in workshops on Chinese kungfu and knots making, and will also visit the Yunnan Ethnic Village and Yunnan Nationalities Museum.
The “ASEAN-China Youth Camp: Cultural Trail from ASEAN to China” was initiated by Myanmar and Thailand and is one of the cultural programmes designed to commemorate the 20th anniversary of ASEAN-China dialogue relations next year. Funded under the ASEAN-China Cooperation Fund, the project is co-hosted and co-organised by the Ministries of Culture of Thailand and Myanmar, as well as the Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China.
Some 40 content industry experts from ASEAN and Japan gathered in Singapore recently to discuss the growth of the mass media and media database industry in their respective countries. They also discussed the opportunities to co-create, co-produce and co-invest in projects of mutual interests.
Content industry is one of Japan’s key industries, sizing around USD 150 billion and constitutes about 2% of the country’s GDP. For ASEAN, in countries like Indonesia, content industry has contributed USD 8.7 billion to its GDP (ninth biggest), employed 4.5 million workers (seventh biggest) and created 1.5 million companies (sixth biggest). Meanwhile, in Thailand, the industry generates 10% of the country’s GDP.
The “ASEAN-Japan Forum on Development of Contents Industry: Fusion of Pop-Cultures”, which was held from 11 to 13 November, was organised by the ASEAN-Japan Centre.
The forum was officiated by Mr Yoshikuni Ohnishi, Secretary General, ASEAN-Japan Centre; H.E. Mr Yoichi Suzuki, Ambassador of Japan to Singapore, Dr Donald Tambunan, Director of Socio-Cultural Cooperation Directorate, ASEAN Secretariat; and Mr Thomas Lim, Senior Director, , Media Development Authority, Singapore.
Among the speakers presented at the Forum were Mr Daisuke Takayanagi of the Media Contents Division, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry of Japan; Mr Akira Sakai of Dentsu Singapore and Mr Yoshihiko Shinoda of Media Contents Division, ASATSU-DK Inc. Japan.
An “ASEAN Business Network” workshop was recently held in Jakarta to encourage the private sector to support the creation of an ASEAN Economic Community by 2015. The workshop also discussed the challenges and opportunities faced by the business community in helping ASEAN to achieve that Community.
The workshop acknowledged the benefits of reinforcing regional cooperation and linking their supply chains with the regional and global markets. It also reminded the participants on why dialogues among the business community need to be intensified and why their messages to the policy makers need to be timely. The workshop, furthermore, agreed that dialogues will also lend insights to ASEAN policy makers on the gaps that exist between ASEAN’s economic plans and the implementation in reality.
Dr Somsak Pipoppinyo, Director of Finance, Industry and Infrastructure of the ASEAN Secretariat said ASEAN needs to invest more time, resources and communication to engage the business sector, so that there is a better understanding on opportunities and key challenges involved in ASEAN economic integration process.
Meanwhile, Mr Jan Ronnfeld, Managing Director of the German-Indonesian Chamber of Industry and Commerce (EKONID), said that the business sector is the main driver in the acceleration of the economic growth and a force in the regional economic development.
The workshop was attended by more than 30 participants comprising representatives of government agencies, Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), and multi-national corporations. It was also attended by representatives of chambers of commerce and industry in ASEAN Member States, German Chambers of Commerce in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, the European Delegation, the Euro Chamber, and the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA).
The workshop was organised with support from InWEnt - Capacity Building International, Germany and funding from the German Federal Foreign Office. It was also co-organised by the ASEAN Secretariat, EKONID, and the ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ABAC).
The 2nd Conference on Traditional Medicine in ASEAN Countries was recently held in Ha Noi to promote traditional medicine as one of the healing modalities in ASEAN, with a focus on integrating traditional medicine into the national healthcare system in the ASEAN Member States.
The Secretary-General of ASEAN, Dr Surin Pitsuwan, said those medicines have been around in the region for thousands of years and must be harnessed, developed and maintained for future generations.
The conference adopted the Ha Noi Declaration, which proposes the creation of an ASEAN Task Force on Traditional Medicine and Complementary Alternative Medicine, and the development of a comprehensive work plan. The conference also noted the importance of strengthening ASEAN cooperation on this field, engaging multi-disciplinary approach and strengthening the collaboration with non-ASEAN partners.
The conference was attended by more than 230 delegates and medicinal experts from ASEAN Member States, China and Japan.
The conference, held from 31 October to 2 November, was organised by the Ministry of Health of Viet Nam, in cooperation with the Nippon Foundation of Japan and the ASEAN Secretariat. The 3rd Conferences on Traditional Medicine in ASEAN Countries will be held next year in Indonesia.
Click here for Dr Surin’s opening speech.
In an effort to enhance the competitiveness and sustainability of Small- and Medium- Enterprises (SMEs) in the region, a workshop was recently convened in Jakarta, where participants shared ideas and experiences to improve the eligibility of SMEs to various financing schemes that are available. At the workshop, experts from Indonesia, Malaysia, China, India, Japan and the Republic of Korea shared their insights on the best practices of SME financial facilities in their respective countries.
The workshop is an activity of the ASEAN Strategic Action Plan for SME Development (2010 – 2015), which outlines the region’s initiatives to enhance SME access to finance. These initiatives include the establishment of an SME financial facility in each Member State; the establishment of an ASEAN SME regional development fund; and a feasibility study on SME credit risk assessment systems.
The workshop concluded with an agreement to form an expert panel on SME access to finance to push relevant flagship projects forward to achieve equitable economic development in the region.
The one-day workshop was organised by the ASEAN SME Working Group, in cooperation with Indonesia’s Ministry of Cooperatives and SMEs, the Central Bank of Indonesia, and the ASEAN Secretariat.
Ten years after all ASEAN Leaders and international organisations signed the United Nations Millennium Declaration on 8 September 2000, a workshop was recently held at the ASEAN Secretariat to discuss the advantages of a regular statistical report on ASEAN’s progress towards the Millennium Development Goals.
The MDGs are eight internationally-recognised development goals to be achieved by 2015, many of which resonate with the purposes of ASEAN. 60 indicators have been defined by international statistical experts to measure the world’s progress towards the MDGs.
Of the 60 indicators, the workshop agreed to push forward the idea of having 27 indicators monitored regularly beginning 2011. The workshop also agreed on the outline of the first issue of the “ASEAN Statistical Report on MDGs Indicators”.
In his opening remarks, the Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN for ASEAN Economic Community, S. Pushpanathan, underscored the important role of statistics in creating a culture of evidence-based policy and decision making. “Without quality statistics, we cannot measure our progress and we cannot properly assess how ASEAN has been doing or how ASEAN integration has benefited its people, industries and economies,” he added. He also invited other development partners to join in the initiative of measuring their progress towards the MDGs.
The “Regional Workshop towards the ASEAN Statistical Report on the Millennium Development Goals” was attended by national MDGs experts from ASEAN. The workshop was organised with the assistance of the EU-ASEAN Statistical Capacity Building (EASCAB) Programme.
The Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN for ASEAN Economic Community, Mr. S. Pushpanathan, yesterday received a delegation from the German Bundestag, led by Dr. Joachim Pfeiffer, the Economic Policy Spokesman of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) Parliamentary Group in the Bundestag.
During the meeting, Mr Pushpanathan highlighted the achievements of the ASEAN Economic Community so far, and updated them on the various efforts that are being undertaken by ASEAN Member States and the ASEAN Secretariat to build an ASEAN Community by the year 2015. Dr Pfeiffer updated the meeting with the recent developments in regional economic integration in the European Union.
Mr Pushpanathan also briefed the delegation on the establishment of the ASEAN+3 Macroeconomic Surveillance Office (AMRO), an independent regional surveillance unit that was recently set up to support the successful implementation of Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralisation.
Both sides also discussed further steps on advancing ASEAN-Germany relations and areas for possible cooperation, including energy; education, particularly vocational training; Small- and Medium-Enterprises (SMEs), and ASEAN-German business engagement.
Mr Pushpanathan also took the opportunity to thank Germany for the technical assistance that it has provided to ASEAN. Germany has provided funds to support ASEAN in the area of competition policy; forestry, environment and sustainable development; and social development. The Federal Foreign Office of Germany also provided capacity building for the ASEAN Secretariat. Cooperation on all these areas are still ongoing.
The delegation also took advantage of the timeliness of the meeting and discussed the highlights and outcomes of the recent 17th ASEAN Summit and Related Summits in Ha Noi which concluded last week, including the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity. The Master Plan aims to better link the region in the dimensions of physical, institutional and people-to-people.
Dr Pfeiffer has been a Member of the Bundestag since 2002 for the constituency of Waiblingen. The delegation was also accompanied by officials from the Embassy of Germany in Indonesia.
An “ASEAN Handbook on International Legal Cooperation in Trafficking in Persons Cases” to help improve cooperation between criminal justice officials who are involved in cross-border trafficking investigations, was launched in Manila recently.
The Handbook provides a step-by-step guide to pursuing transnational trafficking cases where victims, perpetrators and evidence are located in more than one country. It outlines the key forms of international cooperation, from informal police-to-police assistance to mutual legal assistance and extradition, as well as full documentation for making or responding to a request for cooperation. The standards set out in key international and regional treaties relating to transnational organised crime; corruption; and international legal cooperation are also clearly explained in the Handbook to strengthen the collaboration amongst the law enforcement, judiciary and prosecutorial officials of ASEAN.
In introducing the Handbook, the Secretary-General of ASEAN acknowledged the scale of the challenges currently facing national criminal justice agencies in dealing with this complex crime. “In every part of the world, including our own, traffickers are rarely identified, prosecuted and convicted. This is a particular problem for countries of destination, where the most serious forms of exploitation usually take place. In addition, victims of trafficking rarely receive any form of justice or redress for the harms committed against them,” said Dr Surin Pitsuwan.
The Handbook was launched at the side of the 10th Senior Officials Meeting on Transnational Crime on 27 October 2010. It was prepared by technical experts involved in the Asia Regional Trafficking in Persons Project (ARTIP), through the Australian Government Overseas Aid Program (AusAID), and funded by the Australian Government and the European Union, through the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).