TOKYO -- Thai Deputy Prime Minister Somkid Jatusripitak said that the world has recently undergone enormous changes, as evidenced by rising protectionism and increased tensions on the Korean Peninsula. Speaking at the annual Future of Asia conference in Tokyo on Tuesday, Somkid explained that this situation presents a chance to change the world order.
"We must admit that over a short period of just one year, the world has changed enormously," Somkid stated at the beginning of his 30-minute speech, citing the United States' protectionist policies and Brexit. "It is therefore a challenge for us, especially for Asian nations, to turn to each other, to collaborate, and to adapt and reorient ourselves in order to leverage Asia's strengths."
The deputy prime minister stressed that the current state of affairs presents opportunity. "Amidst the clouds of uncertainties and instabilities that have shaken the old world order, [and] the added anxieties pressuring the already fragile global economy, [there] is an opportunity to reorder the world," he said. "[An opportunity] in which I am confident that Asia will play a more significant role."
"How well we can take advantage of the opportunity depends on how closely we collaborate, and on how many of the tasks and responsibilities we are willing to shoulder for our collective future," he stated.
To overcome challenges and increase Asia's potential, Somkid mentioned "four crucial factors" that are important to the region: connectivity, in terms of transportation, capital, labor and other factors; integrated development strategy; human capital development for the digital age; and peace and mutual trust.
Somkid said he supports globalization efforts, and thus acknowledges China's Belt and Road initiative as well as Japan's plan to promote the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact, despite the withdrawal of the U.S. Moreover, he said the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, a proposed trade pact among 16 countries, will bring "substantial benefits" to member nations.