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Cablegate: Asean Signs Charter and Economic Blueprint, Issues

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PP RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHGH RUEHPB RUEHVC
DE RUEHGP #2092/01 3251126
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 211126Z NOV 07
FM AMEMBASSY SINGAPORE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4473
INFO RUCNARF/ASEAN REGIONAL FORUM COLLECTIVE
RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 2053
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 1890
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 4155
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 5774
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON 1394
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0141

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 SINGAPORE 002092

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL ETRD EINV ECON SENV ASEAN SN
SUBJECT: ASEAN SIGNS CHARTER AND ECONOMIC BLUEPRINT, ISSUES
ENVIRO STATEMENTS

REF: A. SINGAPORE 2086 (BURMA SQUASHES GAMBARI BRIEFING)

B. SINGAPORE 2075 (ASEAN-BIS MEETINGS)
C. SINGAPORE 2052 (LOW EXPECTATIONS FOR ASEAN SUMMIT)
D. SINGAPORE 2085 (ASEAN SIGNS CHARTER)

1. (U) While controversy over Burma dominated headlines as
leaders concluded the 13th ASEAN Summit in Singapore November
20 (ref A), member-countries and many regional observers
preferred to focus on what they saw as a potential turning
point in ASEAN's forty year history. The leaders signed two
key documents -- the ASEAN Charter and the ASEAN Economic
Community Blueprint -- intended to lay the foundation for the
region's eventual transformation into a more integrated and
influential political and economic entity. They also issued
statements on environmental sustainability and climate
change. Below, we offer brief summaries of key features of
the Charter, Blueprint, and Declarations. The complete texts
of all ASEAN Summit documents are available at
www.13aseansummit.org.sg. The ASEAN 3 (including ASEAN
plus China, Japan, and South Korea), East Asia, and ASEAN-
European Union (EU) summits continue November 21-22.

ASEAN: Let's Get this Charter Started!
--------------------------------------

(SBU) The Eminent Persons Group that provided the vision for
the Charter had hoped for mechanisms that would move beyond
ASEAN's strict consensus-based decision-making and would
ensure the "compliance" of member-states with their ASEAN
commitments (Ref B). But the final document reinforced the
consensus approach and has only weak compliance mechanisms.
Even so, many local analysts and officials felt that it was a
significant achievement to get all ten ASEAN members, which
vary widely in levels of political and economic development,
to sign a document committing them to adhere to principles of
democracy, human rights, the rule of law, and good governance
(ref C). The weakness of compliance mechanisms took on added
significance in the context of the Burma crisis, though most
observers here believe it is better to have Burma signed on
to the Charter's principles as a benchmark for future
behavior than to have it outside of the organization. While
the Charter falls short of what many here had hoped for,
officials stress that it is a "living document" that will
change over time. (See ref D for text and a synopsis of the
Charter).

ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint
----------------------------------

3. (U) As expected, the ten ASEAN leaders on November 20
signed the ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint (ref C). The
Blueprint maps out ASEAN's creation of a single market by
2015, five years earlier than initially planned. The
Blueprint identifies four priority sectors (air services,
"e-ASEAN", healthcare, and tourism) where tariffs and other
barriers will be removed on an accelerated schedule by 2010.
While the Blueprint's goal is the free movement of goods,
services, labor, and investment, the document also
acknowledges the need to balance economic progress with
"equitable development." Most observers expect ASEAN to move
more quickly on economic than political issues, but questions
about the Blueprint remain. As reported Ref E, some
Ministers have voiced concerns about the ability of all
members to remove all trade barriers and open their economies
to competition in such a short timeframe, in particular
targets that are supposed to be achieved as early as 2009.


Declaration on Environmental Sustainability
-------------------------------------------

4. (U) ASEAN's Declaration on Environmental Sustainability
noted the effect of climate change in developing countries on
environmental, social, health, and economic advancement.
Leaders agreed to increase cooperation on environmentally
sustainable practices and to encourage participation by
non-governmental organizations, the private sector, and
academia in a "holistic approach" to collaboration. The
Declaration identifies numerous areas for improvement, from
mitigation of air and water pollution (including
trans-boundary concerns) to access to clean drinking water,

SINGAPORE 00002092 002 OF 002


from deforestation to climate change. ASEAN will also work
to establish an organization-wide nuclear safety regime. On
trade, the members agreed to strengthen efforts to implement
the ASEAN Regional Action Plan on Trade in Wild Fauna and
Flora.

Declaration on Climate Change
-----------------------------

5. (U) The leaders also reaffirmed their commitment to
address climate change and greenhouse gas level stabilization
in accordance with the United Nations Framework Convention on
Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol. The ASEAN
Declaration on the 13th Session of the Conference of the
Parties to the UNFCCC and the 3rd Session of the CMP to the
Kyoto Protocol recognizes that climate change requires a
"global solution." However, citing "historic responsibility,
economic strength, and capabilities," ASEAN specifically
urges Annex-I Parties to reduce emissions and implement
commitments to technology transfer and capacity building.
The Declaration calls on all countries to consider climate
change when developing their national development policies.
Members also agreed to enhance cooperation and committed to
participate "actively and constructively" to ensure a
successful outcome at the December UNFCC and Kyoto Protocol
meetings in Bali.

Visit Embassy Singapore's Classified website:
http://www.state.sgov.gov/p/eap/singapore/ind ex.cfm
HERBOLD

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