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Anwar calls on Asian countries to work together for a stable, prosperous region

Publish date: Thu, 23 May 2024, 09:59 AM

TOKYO: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has called on Asian countries to work together to ensure a "peaceful, stable and prosperous" Asia.

In his keynote address at the Nikkei Forum 29th Future of Asia, Anwar pledged Malaysia's solidarity, support and openness to collaborating with other countries in the region.

"We must stand together, allowing neither external forces nor insidious competition to pull us away from the larger goal, and that is nothing less than a peaceful, stable, and prosperous Asia," he said at the annual event which brings together the movers and shakers from Asia Pacific to discuss the region's role on the global stage.

The theme of this year's Nikkei Forum is "Asian Leadership in an Uncertain World".

In his speech, Anwar reflected on the challenges facing the world, including rising protectionism and closed alliances.

"Trade, investment, and the sharing of technologies have now been increasingly weaponised by world powers as they compete with each other-largely to the detriment of developing countries.

"Even as much has changed, some constants remain, such as the centrality of global economic challenges and the ever-looming spectre of uncertainty.

"Deep-seated anxieties that reach far into the borders and social fabric of nations continue to fester while economic disparities, rapid technological change, and environmental degradation persist to muddy our collective future."

Anwar also said while rapid technological change and Artificial Intelligence (AI) hold immense potential, they could widen digital, social and economic divides.

These challenges, he said, come at a time when armed conflicts and geopolitical tensions are undermining international cooperation and diluting global commitments to peace, human rights, and international law.

"These seemingly insurmountable challenges enjoin us to seek and forge a renewed vision of Asian leadership.

"As the vagaries of the world grow increasingly turbulent, and the crosswinds of economic and geopolitical shifts threaten to veer us off course, Asia would do well to steady our sails and right our ship."

This, he said, was possible as Asia now had the "economic weight, strategic capacity and collaborative might" to navigate the challenges.

Anwar said Asia has, in recent years, shown what can be achieved through cooperation, citing the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and the Comprehensive Partnership for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

"RCEP alone involves nearly a third of the world's exports, population, and GDP-making it the largest trade bloc in the world.

"Meanwhile, progress with the Asean Economic Community has continued apace, enabling Southeast Asian economies to deepen their economic integration, contributing to the region's role as a dynamic and open hub of economic activity."

He said Malaysia, which assumes chairmanship of Asean next year, is committed to championing cooperation between countries.

On the economic front, Anwar said Malaysia's focus will be on strengthening economic cooperation among Asean member states.

"Recent diversification of global supply chains and FDI inflows must create tangible benefits for development while reducing disparities within ASEAN countries.

"Secondly, we aim to enhance our economic cooperation with our partners from across the globe on advancing technological collaboration and sustainable trade practices.

Global uncertainty, Anwar said, has only strengthened Malaysia's resolve to be forward-looking and proactive in creating a prosperous future for all.

He said it was incumbent on Asean and its partners to keep the region dynamic, stable and adaptable.

Anwar also highlighted the importance of adapting, citing a quote from Okakura Kakuzo's The Book of Tea, which reads, "The art of life lies in a constant readjustment to our surroundings".

"The art of leadership and governance demands that we adapt to the shifting dynamics of global economic, political, social, and cultural forces of our time.

"Towards this end, Malaysia will remain dedicated to fostering shared growth, bolstering regional cooperation, and maintaining our openness to trade, development and commerce."

This is Anwar's first keynote address at the event as Prime Minister.

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