On 23 June 2019 during 10.00 – 12.00 hours, H.E. General Prayut Chan-o-cha (Ret.), Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand presided over the Retreat Session of the 34th ASEAN Summit in Bangkok, Thailand. The Retreat was a platform for ASEAN Leaders to collectively discuss the direction of ASEAN’s relations with external parties as well as exchange views in a frank and amicable manner on regional and international issues so as to find ways to address challenges facing ASEAN.
During the Retreat, the Leaders underscored the importance of maintaining unity, advancing shared interests and preserving ASEAN centrality in the regional architecture. The Retreat also highlighted the importance of fostering close cooperation within ASEAN to cope with the challenges arising from the change and strategic competition between the major powers in the Asia-Pacific and Indo-Pacific regions. The Retreat also discussed the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific, which reflects ASEAN’s common approach. The Leaders also exchanged views on ASEAN’s readiness in dealing with the impact of trade tensions between the major trade partners of ASEAN based upon commitment to the multilateral trading system as well as the acceleration of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) negotiations and enhanced connectivity of various sub-regional economic frameworks. Other important regional and international issues such as the South China Sea, the Korean Peninsula and the Rakhine State, as well as ASEAN’s shared wish to host the FIFA World Cup in 2034 were also discussed.
After the end of the 34th ASEAN Summit, the Prime Minister held a press conference on the outcome of the Summit, which includes the Plenary and Retreat Sessions as well as the interfaces between the ASEAN Leaders and stakeholders, namely, the representatives of ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA), ASEAN Youth, and ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN-BAC) respectively. The outcome of these activities reaffirmed ASEAN’s commitment to building an ASEAN Community that is people-centred, leaves no one behind and looks to the future. Thailand’s ASEAN Chairmanship theme of “Advancing Partnership for Sustainability” intends to promote sustainability in all dimensions to enable ASEAN to respond to changes and challenges such as the 4th Industrial Revolution, climate change, and competition between countries outside the region. ASEAN’s work over the past five months has been guided by the theme. Progress has been made in a number of areas, which include enhancing sustainable security, pursuing sustainable and dynamic economic development, promoting seamless ASEAN connectivity to realise a digital and green ASEAN and promoting sustainable development in order to increase ASEAN’s strategic value-added and bring about regional stability and prosperity. The ASEAN Leaders expressed strong support to the Thai Chairmanship theme and, consequently, adopted the ASEAN Leaders’ Vision Statement on Partnership for Sustainability and are committed to collectively pushing forward cooperation under the ASEAN framework for concrete outcomes.
As the Chair of ASEAN, Thailand will convey relevant key points and conclusions of the 34th ASEAN Summit to the G20 Summit on 28-29 June 2019 in Osaka to highlight “ASEAN’s Voice” in the international arena.
In closing, the Prime Minister expressed his appreciation to all agencies concerned and the Thai people for their cooperation in hosting the 34th ASEAN Summit successfully, which was commended by all ASEAN Member States. The Prime Minister informed that Thailand will host the 35th ASEAN Summit in early November 2019 which will also be attended by Leaders from outside the region.