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ERIA Holds the 10th ASEAN Connectivity Symposium in Bangkok

27 August 2019

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Bangkok, 27 August 2019 : The Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand, and the ASEAN Secretariat jointly organised the 10th ASEAN Connectivity Symposium with the theme, ‘Connecting ASEAN Through Financing Sustainable Infrastructure’, at Centara Grand and Bangkok Convention Centre on 27 August 2019.

In his opening remarks, Prof Hidetoshi Nishimura, the President of ERIA, underscored the importance of ‘digital connectivity’ in terms of implementing the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity (MPAC) 2025, while noting that enhancing ‘physical’ connectivity remains one of the biggest challenges in ASEAN. In order to achieve a more advanced digital economy, investment in 5G transmission facilities is important, he added. He also encouraged the participants to discuss ways to achieve the quality of growth in the region based on effective development of sustainable infrastructure financing, invoking ERIA’s ‘ASEAN Public Private Partnership Guidelines’ which emphasises the facilitation of close-network structures where governments, the private sector, and financial supporters are engaged.

H.E. Mr Arthayudh Srisamoot, Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand, delivered an opening keynote in which he noted that Thailand sought to pursue the ‘Sustainability of Things’, following the theme for Thailand’s ASEAN Chairmanship, ‘Advancing Partnership for Sustainability’. He also conveyed several reasons why Thailand advocates the importance of the connectivity agenda:
(1) so-called multi-dimensional connectivity is an effective tool to address emerging political, economic and social challenges,
(2) financial connectivity is important to overcome the issue of inadequate financing relative to the high demand for infrastructure investment,
(3) an approach called ‘Connecting the Connectivities’ - finding synergies and forming links between the MPAC 2025 and other sub-regional and regional initiatives and strategies will be key to uplifting the people’s livelihood and bringing prosperity within and outside of ASEAN.

Attended by around 200 participants including Chairs of the ASEAN Connectivity Coordinating Committee (ACCC), Dialogue Partners, Sectoral Body Chairs, leaders from the private and public financial sectors, international organisations, and academia, the day’s proceedings were divided into three sessions around the themes: Building Sustainable Infrastructure for Quality Growth, Getting Private Sector on Board – What Would Make Infrastructure Attractive for Them, and Funding Options for Infrastructure Development.

After in-depth discussions throughout the day, Ambassador Phasporn Sangasubana, Chair of the ACCC and Thailand’s Permanent Representative to ASEAN, noted that physical infrastructure is the important first step to enhance connectivity, which is a part of the MPAC 2025, particularly under the Strategic Area of Sustainable Infrastructure. She closed her remarks with her hope that the Symposium will be a platform to improve cooperation and coordination in order to better address infrastructure needs through infrastructure investment in ASEAN.

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