China’s the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) can help ASEAN in its efforts to revitalise the region’s economy, as the transcontinental development strategy proves to be a “significant plan” that can further enhance the region’s economic landscape as well as connectivity, said the monarch in a titah on Tuesday. 

His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzadin Waddaulah, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam. Image courtesy of PMO

His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzadin Waddaulah, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, as the Chair of ASEAN 2021, delivered a special titah via recorded video during the Opening Plenary of the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) Annual Conference 2021 in Boao, China.

His Majesty noted how this year represented a milestone year in the history of relations between China and ASEAN as well as China and Brunei as 2021 marks the 30th anniversary of ASEAN-China dialogue relations and the establishment of diplomatic relations between the sultanate and China. 

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Addressing the pandemic’s impact towards the region, the monarch reiterated how ASEAN remained united and in solidarity, never losing sight of integration efforts despite the unprecedented nature of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

With Brunei chairing the regional bloc, the monarch underscored ASEAN’s determination in focusing its efforts towards the region’s economic recovery post-pandemic, as stated within Brunei Darussalam’s 13 Priority Economic Deliverables under the ASEAN Economic Community. 

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Furthermore, to ensure sustainable economic growth for ASEAN, the journey towards economic recovery will have to leverage on new technologies and digitalisation, His Majesty the Sultan added. 

He then went on to highlight the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP) in November last year, as it not only demonstrated the concerted efforts of its member countries towards advancing international trade cooperation, but it also helps strengthen regional recovery efforts. 

The RCEP is an agreement to broaden and deepen ASEAN’s engagement with Australia, New Zealand, China and South Korea, which together accounts for about 30 per cent of the global GDP as well as 30 per cent of the world’s population. 

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The RCEP Agreement is to establish a “modern, comprehensive, high-quality and mutually beneficial partnership” aimed at facilitating the expansion of regional trade and investment” which will contribute towards the participating countries’ growth and development. 

The RCEP Agreement, according to ASEAN will work alongside and support an “open, inclusive and rules-based multilateral trading system” to ultimately pave the way for more market and employment opportunities to businesses and people in the region. 

In light of this His Majesty believed that the Belt and Road Initiative would further complement the revitalisation of their economies, adding that it is a significant plan that would contribute to regional connectivity and enhance the economic landscape. 

It could also present opportunities to work together in many areas and through sub-regional fora such as BIMP-EAGA. 

The BFA Annual Conference 2021 was held from 18 to 21 April 2021 and coincided with the 20th Anniversary of the Forum and held the theme; “A World in Change: Join Hands to Strengthen Global Governance and Advance Belt and Road Cooperation”. 

Image: Shutterstock
Image: Shutterstock

Jointly initiated by 29 Asia-Pacific countries in February 2001, the BFA serves as a high-level platform of dialogue bringing together more than 2,000 delegates from governments, businesses, media, academic institutions and international organisations from Asia and beyond, including leaders from host country China and other economies, to share their insights and proposals on the development of Asia and the world. – Wardi Wasil

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This article was first published on April 24, 2021 in our Weekly E-Paper issue 138



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