Dear Ambassador Surasak Suparat, in whose name I congratulate all the Ambassadors of the ASEAN group;
Distinguished authorities, dear friends,
I could only begin by congratulating the ASEAN Committee in Brasilia and the current President of the group, Ambassador Surasak Suparat, for organizing the celebration of the Association's golden jubilee in Brasilia. It is a great honor for me to be invited to deliver a short speech during the celebration of an important milestone in the successful history of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, which heralds ASEAN's promising future.
Diversity is a defining trait of the Association and although this characteristic entails great challenges in terms of political coordination, it unquestionably broadens the reach and substance of the organization and of diplomacy itself. For the past five decades, ASEAN has shown to the world that tolerance and dialogue are the foundations of an enduring partnership. This is no small feat and merits celebration.
ASEAN has developed an undeniable capacity to take joint decisions and to use its good offices towards regional stability and peace – as demonstrated recently at the 50th ASEAN Summit in Manila. The anniversary of fifty years of ASEAN represents, in this sense, a case in point for a more peaceful and integrated world order. The motto of this year's ASEAN Foreign Minister's Meeting, "Partnering for Change, Engaging the World", signals the global reach of the Association, which deepened significantly with the establishing, in 2015, of the ASEAN Community. I am really confident that the functioning of the three pillars of the Community you have designed – regarding politics and security, economy and socio-cultural development – will turn ASEAN into, as you say yourselves, a Community of Opportunities.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
ASEAN has built an extensive international agenda, both with countries in its own region and throughout the world. Brazil's relations with ASEAN countries have grown significantly in the last ten years. Brazil and ASEAN started developing a closer relationship during the MERCOSUL-ASEAN Ministerial Meeting, held in Brasília, in 2008. In 2011, Brazil appointed its Ambassador to Jakarta also as representative to ASEAN; and, in 2012, Brazil acceded to the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC). The Association, if considered as a whole, is Brazil's second major trading partner in Asia and fourth major partner in the world, with total trade flows greater than US$ 16.5 billion. In addition, bilateral investments are flourishing and, for the business communities of Southeast Asia and South America, the distance that separates both regions has been narrowed by outstanding investment opportunities on both sides of the Pacific.
Brazil plays an important role in connecting these two regions through its engagement in fostering synergies between Mercosur and ASEAN. Mercosur is, for many reasons, a natural partner of the association. Not only are the two integration initiatives the most important in their respective regions, but, in addition, they share perspectives on many important issues of the international agenda, such as the promotion of sustainable development and the emphasis on trade as an important tool for development and integration. There is, however, plenty of opportunities for the development of our partnership and we are currently working on the means necessary to fulfil this potential. In short, I believe that ASEAN and Mercosur both stand to gain from each other's prosperity. We should now start a dialogue aiming to find the adequate balance between our interests.
Minister Aloysio Nunes Ferreira, after accompanying President Michel Temer in his bilateral visit to China and the BRICS Summit, will visit three countries of the region (Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam) as well as summon the Brazilian heads of mission to the region for a working meeting in Singapore, initiative in keeping with the growing priority given by Itamaraty to Asia. He will not visit Indonesia, which hosts ASEAN´s Secretariat, since the country´s Minister for Foreign Affairs will be away on official mission on those dates.
Conveying my best vows to ASEAN, with regard to its next fifty years of promising achievements, I thank you all for your attention.