Closing Remarks at the Annual Meeting Seminar on Regional Cooperation and Integration in a Changing World

Closing Remarks by ADB President Takehiko Nakao at the Annual Meeting Seminar on Regional Cooperation and Integration in a Changing World held on 4 May 2013

Your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen:

In closing this important seminar, I would first like to thank our panel of eminent speakers for their valuable insights on regional cooperation and integration in the evolving global economic landscape.

As you know, ADB has long been involved with economic cooperation and integration across Asia. ADB has played a pivotal role in regional cooperation in the region, and I reiterated its importance in my Vision Statement during the election process for the ADB Presidency. We continue to support initiatives from central Asia to the Pacific island nations - from CAREC to SAARC; from ASEAN to ASEAN+3 and the East Asia Summit process; from APEC to the Pacific Island Forum. And we strongly support subregional cooperation programs as well - for example, the Greater Mekong Subregion, or GMS, and the South Asia Subregional Economic Cooperation Program, or SASEC.1

Regional cooperation covers a wide range of areas - from transportation to trade, investment, energy, water and finance, to name a few. We have accumulated extensive experience and knowledge by closely working with our partners. Approaching the important milestone of establishing an ASEAN Economic Community in 2015, I think today's discussion helped sum up some of the lessons and prospects. We also need to ensure that other proposals - such as the RCEP and TPP, to name just two - move forward in a way that increases coherence across the trade landscape. And, while slowed down for the moment, we should not lose sight of the importance of the multilateral framework despite the difficulties faced.

While regional cooperation and integration deepens and intensifies, so too must inter-regional cooperation advance. Asia and Europe, Asia and North America, and increasingly South-South cooperation with Africa and Latin America will better allow us to tackle the global challenges we face on trade, finance, and the environment, among others. After all, one of the distinguishing features of Asian regionalism is that it is open and outward looking. I think it is critical that this should be preserved, indeed enhanced, as we go forward. While we strive to be more regionally integrated, we must always remain globally connected.

I am glad this afternoon's seminar was able to address many of these issues. And of course the debate will not stop here. But the more we can promote discussions like today's, the better we will be prepared to cooperate in the future for the increased welfare and prosperity of all.

Thank you.

1 CAREC = Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation; SAARC = South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation; ASEAN = the Association of Southeast Asian Nations; ASEAN+3 = the 10 ASEAN members plus the People's Republic of China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea; APEC = Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation; the Greater Mekong Subregion includes Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Viet Nam, and the People's Republic of China's Yunnan Province; SASEC is a subset of SAARC, including Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal.