Thailand’s Permanent Representative to ASEAN, Mr. Manasvi Srisodapol, sees good prospects for ASEAN cooperation in 2010, when six members of ASEAN can import and export almost all goods across their borders with no tariff. Mr. Manasvi presented his letter of credentials to the Secretary-General of ASEAN, Dr. Surin Pitsuwan, at a ceremony held at the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta on 4 January 2010.
In expressing his pleasure at receiving Ambassador Manasvi, Dr. Surin said that the appointment was a good way to start the new year and that the ASEAN Secretariat looked forward to working with the Thai Permanent Representative in advancing the work of the Committee of Permanent Representatives.
According to the ASEAN Charter, each ASEAN Member State will appoint a permanent representative to ASEAN with the rank of Ambassador based in Jakarta. The permanent representatives constitute the Committee of Permanent Representatives, whose tasks include supporting the work of the ASEAN Community Councils and coordinating with ASEAN National Secretariats and other ASEAN Sectoral Ministerial Bodies. The Committee of Permanent Representatives also liaises with the Secretary-General of ASEAN and the ASEAN Secretariat. Before taking up his current position, Ambassador Manasvi served as the Deputy Director-General of the Department of ASEAN Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand.
Ambassador Manasvi said that as of 1 January 2010, Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand began to eliminate their intra-regional tariffs and keep intra-ASEAN trade open. The remaining four countries, namely Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, and Viet Nam, were committed to their zero-tariff target in 2015.
He said that transportation links within ASEAN in the future would play an important role in bringing ASEAN people closer together, which would help in ASEAN integration as a community and provide opportunities for the people to get to know and work with one another.
He said that Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya and some of his ASEAN counterparts would travel by car to attend a meeting of ASEAN foreign ministers on January 14 in Danang, Viet Nam, through the Mukdahan – Savannakhet – Danang route.
Viet Nam on January 1 assumed the chairmanship of ASEAN from Thailand. As the ASEAN Chair in 2010, Viet Nam would focus on working with the other ASEAN Member States to expedite the implementation of various agreements, plans, and programmes – particularly the ASEAN Charter and the Roadmap for an ASEAN Community (2009-2015) – enhancing relations between ASEAN and its friends and partners and heightening the prominence of the region.
Viet Nam’s theme for its chairmanship is “Towards the ASEAN Community: from Vision to Action.” The year 2010 also marks the 15th year of Viet Nam’s accession to ASEAN.
As for the issue of Thai-Cambodian conflicts, Ambassador Manasvi believed that the conflicts would be resolved through peaceful means and that they would not affect the formation of the ASEAN community in 2015.