15 November 2020

His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam, this morning joined other ASEAN Leaders and ASEAN Dialogue Partners for the 11th ASEAN-United Nations Summit and the 4th Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Summit, held virtually via video conferences from Baitul Mesyuarah, Istana Nurul Iman.

His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam first joined the 11th ASEAN-United Nations Summit, in which His Majesty in a titah congratulated SecretaryGeneral António Guterres on the 75th Anniversary of the United Nations and commended the UN’s success and the World Health Organization (WHO) in leading the global response against the COVID-19 pandemic, while expressing support to the UN in this regard.

His Majesty acknowledged that efforts have been made to complement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SDGs) and ASEAN’s Community Vision 2025, encouraging further efforts to identify measures that better care for the people and prepare them for future challenges.

Continued progress between ASEAN and the UN will depend on a region that is peaceful and stable, and therefore it is important to address together the security challenges such as transnational crimes, violent extremism and terrorism.

In ending the titah, His Majesty encouraged ASEAN and the UN to work together through the UN Alliance of Civilisations to uphold a culture of peace and dialogue and to deepen trust and understanding, in response to the rise of racial and religious intolerance. Earlier at the Summit, His Excellency Nguyễn Xuân Phúc, the Prime Minister of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam as the ASEAN Chairman for 2020 in his remarks highlighted that ASEAN is at the centre of harmonising actions with the U.N. in maintaining peace and promoting sustainable development through the ASEAN Charter. In this regard, ASEAN’s Centrality emphasises fostering dialogue and cooperation through U.N.-led efforts towards achieving peace, stability and development in the region. Amidst unprecedented challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, Vietnam hoped that discussions during the Summit will bolster ASEAN-U.N. Comprehensive Partnership, contributing to the sustainable recovery of both sides as well as the region.

Meanwhile, His Excellency António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations (U.N) called for ASEAN leadership and resolve to safeguard shared goals of ASEAN and the U.N. in the face of global threats to sustainable development including rising geopolitical tensions, poverty and inequality. The U.N. also commended ASEAN’s swift action and response to the pandemic and appreciated ASEAN’s recommendation for the COVID-19 vaccine to be a global public good. On the environment, the U.N. asked all ASEAN Member States to transition to net zero carbon and reiterated the need for robust action to reverse climate change impacts.

His Excellency the Prime Minister of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam as the country coordinator of ASEAN-UN Relations delivered the ASEAN Common Statement. ASEAN welcomed the U.N.’s commitment towards peace and reconciliation through the common vision in upholding international law and a multilateral, rules-based international order. ASEAN also appreciated the support of U.N. sectoral bodies under the U.N. Development Programme in assisting ASEAN Member States mitigate adverse socio-economic impacts of the pandemic. It is hoped that future cooperation between ASEAN and the U.N. will, among others, narrow development gaps; promote equal and inclusive growth as well as social equality; mitigate climate change and natural disaster impacts; and empower women.

At the Summit, the leaders touched on U.N. achievements that have been beneficial to many countries in enduring peace, security and stability in all corners of the world; and the collective responsibility of the U.N. and ASEAN to restore multilateralism towards better preparedness in addressing COVID-19 as well as future pandemics. The leaders also called for U.N. support in sharing best practices and experiences towards enhancing ASEAN capacity in tackling hostilities in sustaining regional and global peacekeeping; addressing climate change; and ensuring preparedness for natural disasters.

The 4th Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Summit was also joined by leaders from Australia, the People’s Republic of China, Japan, New Zealand, and the Republic of Korea.
At the Summit, His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam in a titah congratulated RCEP participating countries for the demonstration of solidarity and cooperation in concluding the RCEP negotiations, in support of free trade despite economic challenges.

His Majesty emphasised that the RCEP Agreement will also play a significant role in the region’s post pandemic recovery efforts. As the largest Free Trade Agreement in the world,  with a population of 2.2 billion and nearly 30 per cent of global GDP, the RCEP Agreement is expected to provide new opportunities and the further deepening of economic ties among the participating countries.

His Majesty thereby expressed confidence that RCEP would be an engine of growth that will shape the region’s economic landscape in the years to come. His Excellency the Prime Minister of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam, as ASEAN Chairman officially opened the RCEP Summit.

His Excellency Joko Widodo, President of the Republic of Indonesia as the Chair of RCEP negotiations acknowledged that the signing of the RCEP Agreement marks the region’s commitment to the principles of multilateral trade which is open, fair and beneficial to all. It also signals the commitment of to the win-win paradigm in promoting peace and prosperity in the region as well as a post-pandemic recovery.

This was followed by a statement by The Right Honourable Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand as facilitator of the ASEAN FTA Partner countries in RCEP. New Zealand highlighted that the COVID-19 pandemic has created negative shocks to the global economy, leading to a sharp rise in protectionism. Thus, New Zealand believed that the RCEP Agreement is significant in responding to the global crisis through expanding international cooperation. Trade is an enabler of economic recovery and will drive recovery efforts by increasing income, innovation and productivity.

At the Summit, leaders of the RCEP partner countries emphasized the signing of the RCEP agreement as a reflection of the region’s strong resolve to promote free trade. It is a significant milestone whereby the RCEP becomes the largest free trade agreement, creating a trading area that covers a third of the world’s population, GDP or trade volume with ASEAN at its centre. The signing shows the commitment of participating countries in developing multilateralism and free trade, boosting solidarity and partnership for greater inclusive cooperation in global economic growth and development. The strategic value of the RCEP is a catalyst for driving the economy forward and enhance economic sustainability in the region. RCEP will fully reflect the emerging pattern of integration where economies can come together and contribute to each other’s development.

The Summit adopted the Joint Leaders’ Statement on RCEP. Towards the end of the 4th RCEP Summit, His Majesty also witnessed the signing of the RCEP Agreement by RCEP Ministers.

In August 2012, the 16 Economic Ministers endorsed the Guiding Principles and Objectives for Negotiating the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. The RCEP negotiations were launched by Leaders from the 10 ASEAN Member States and six ASEAN FTA partners – Australia, People’s Republic of China, Republic of India, Japan, Republic of Korea, and New Zealand – during the 21st ASEAN Summit and Related Summits in Phnom Penh, Cambodia in November 2012.

Of the 16 countries, 15 have signed the agreement today, with India being offered to join RCEP participation when it is ready.

The objective of the RCEP negotiations was to achieve a modern, comprehensive, high-quality, and mutually beneficial economic partnership agreement among the ASEAN Member States and ASEAN’s FTA partners.