Speech at the Opening of the 21st ASEAN Customs Directors-General ConferenceBy admin On June 6, 2012 Under Bureau of Customs, Speeches
21st ASEAN Customs Directors-General Conference
Marriott Hotel, Resortsworld, Manila
June 6, 2012
Honorable Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., Speaker of the Philippine House of Representatives;
Fellow Directors-General of Customs in ASEAN and other Countries
Fellow Public Servants;
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Magandang umaga po sa inyong lahat. Good morning to everyone.
Forty five years ago, five nations, in the spirit of kinship among neighbors, agreed to come together for mutual benefit under an atmosphere of mutual respect and sovereign yet inter-dependent nationhood.
Over the years, five more countries joined the association, expanding the coverage of influence of the aggrupation, strengthening its position in the global community and establishing a distinct identity that reflects the cultural similarities and uniqueness of each nation in the association.
The Association of South East Asian Nations, ten nations strong, is bound by its motto of “One Vision, One Identity, One Community”. The ASEAN irony is that in the bird’s eye view, our region exhibits a diversity in culture and history, but as one come closer, the similarities become more apparent and somehow, the lines of distinction become blurred, and you find reason in the motto, “One Vision, One Identity, One Community”.
Today, we are gathered once again as a community, focusing on matters which pursue the aims of the Declaration which brought together the members of the ASEAN, that is, to promote active collaboration and mutual assistance on matters of common interest in the economic field and to collaborate more effectively for the greater utilization of our agriculture and industries, the expansion of our trade, including the study of the problems of international commodity trade.
The importance of the Meeting of the ASEAN Directors-General of Customs is emphasized not only because of the aims embodied in the declaration which announced to the world the creation of the ASEAN, but because we are currently moving in a new world order that has cross border trade and travel as a way of life. Without it, nations become cut off from the rest of the global village. With or without ASEAN, by necessity, we have to come together to agree on how to live together.
This fact is further emphasized that ASEAN engages countries that are not a part of the association, stressing the importance of international cooperation likewise enumerated in the ASEAN Declaration. The participation of China, Japan and Korea highlights the ASEAN aim to maintain close and beneficial cooperation with neighboring states and existing international and regional organizations.
I am glad to note that in this meeting, several international institutions, namely, the Asian Development Bank, the Japan International Cooperation Agency and the World Customs Organization are in attendance in support of customs reform and modernization. There is also an opportunity to interact with the international business community with the presence of the US-ASEAN Business Council and the Conference of Asia-Pacific Express Carriers or CAPEC.
Of course, we also have the honor and pleasure to have no less than the Secretary-General of the World Customs Organization, the Honorable Kunio Mikuriya to grace this important event.
On a personal note, this 21st Meeting of the ASEAN Directors-General of Customs is significant because it is my first international engagement as a recently-appointed Commissioner of Customs, an engagement of which my country, the Philippines is host; it is a hosting which coincides with the 60th Anniversary of the World Customs Organization; and it is an opportunity that occurred during my term, considering that a country gets to host the meeting only once every ten years.
ASEAN is considered as a growth region. In 2010, we posted a gross domestic product of 1.8 Trillion Dollars, putting ASEAN as the ninth largest economy in the world. In ASEAN intra-trade, we have made great strides in improving not only actual trade but in facilitating trade as well. We are implementing the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement (ATIGA), the ASEAN Harmonized Tariff Nomenclature (AHTN), we have adopted an ASEAN Customs Valuation Guide (ACVG) and lately, member states have signed on to the new ASEAN Agreement on Customs.
On the ASEAN Plus side, we have concluded Free Trade Agreements with Japan, China, Korea, Australia and New Zealand, and we are negotiating one with India.
There is strength in numbers. And in ASEAN, the number is One. One Vision, One Identity, One Community. Deciding and moving as one bloc, we can do more with less. Our unique way of doing business based on Non-Interference, Informality, Minimal Institutionalisation, Consultation and Consensus, Non-use of Force and Non-confrontation, is now recognized as the ASEAN Way.
This calls to mind the ASEAN Vision 2020, adopted by the ASEAN Leaders on the 30th Anniversary of ASEAN, when they agreed on “a shared vision of ASEAN as a concert of Southeast Asian nations, outward looking, living in peace, stability and prosperity, bonded together in partnership in dynamic development and in a community of caring societies”.
We are strategic partners in progress and development. Our countries’ futures are inevitably interlinked and it is a matter of obligation not just to ourselves but more so to the next generation that we build up the foundation for a continued partnership among our nations so that prosperity will be gained not only by one, but all.
In this context, I welcome all the delegates to the 21st Meeting of the ASEAN Directors-General of Customs. We are all here to work hard for our countries. But don’t forget, this may be work, but it’s more fun in the Philippines!