PHNOM PENH — The 8th Cambodia-Asia Economic Forum kicked off here on Saturday, focusing on reviewing the ASEAN achievements in the past 45 years and looking at opportunities and challenges toward the realisation of an ASEAN community by 2015.
The two-day forum has been attending by some 300 economists, academics, researchers, and policy makers from Asian countries.
Speaking at the opening of the forum, Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Finance Keat Chhon said ASEAN has made tremendous progress in all areas of co-operation in the last 45 years, but challenges are still ahead toward the community.
He said ASEAN needed to strengthen its participatory capacity in global solution co-operation reflecting the contribution of ASEAN to global affairs, in which the prestige and role of the group will be further enhanced at international arena.
In addition, the minister said, ASEAN has to speed up the process of dividing development gap among ASEAN member countries, which is prerequisite requirement to ensure regional competitiveness and rationalisation of regional integration and implementation of action plan of ASEAN integration initiatives.
"ASEAN is an important player in the region among other successful organisations in the world. I strongly believe that ASEAN community will be realised in the next two years," he said.
Haruhisa Handa, advisor to Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and chairman of Asia Economic Forum, said the two-day forum, under the theme "ASEAN in the Evolving Regional Architecture: Opportunities, Challenges and Future Direction", aimed at examining how ASEAN has been able to develop and transform itself over the past 45 years of its existence.
It would also look at ways to enhance ASEAN's centrality in the evolving regional architecture and identify ASEAN's future priorities and challenges toward the realisation of an ASEAN community by 2015, he said.
Moreover, the forum would deliberate on how ASEAN can strategically best engage its dialogue partners in the coming years, and at the same time to play a positive role in its relations with the major powers in the region.
The forum was founded in 2004 by Handa, and is held every year in Cambodia under the sponsorship by the International Foundation for Arts and Culture. — VNA/XINHUA