Statement by Hon. Mr. Pradeep Kumar Gyawali, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Government of Nepal at the 17th Ministerial Meeting of Asia Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) (Virtual, Ankara, 21 January 2021)
His Excellency the Secretary General of ACD,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Good Morning and Namaste!
Let me begin by expressing my sincere appreciations to the Government of the Republic of Turkey for successfully steering the organization and hosting this meeting. I commend the Secretary General of ACD and his team at the Secretariat for the excellent preparation.
Nineteen years ago, in 2002, we founded the Asian Cooperation Dialogue (ACD) with the objective of promoting dialogue, mutual understanding, and interdependence among Asian countries and improving the quality of life of our people. I believe, today’s meeting will be yet another milestone in generating further impetus to the ACD process towards this direction.
As we confront with the unprecedented crisis of COVID-19 pandemic, the theme of the meeting “The New Normal and Safe and Healthy Tourism,” carries a significant meaning for the new normal that we have to live with.
The pandemic has caused a colossal damage everywhere disrupting our lives, livelihoods, and economies. It has also hugely impacted the hard-earned development gains, including achievement of SDGs. Tourism, undoubtedly, is the hardest-hit sector by this pandemic.
Nepal has placed top priority to protect people’s lives from the disease and hunger. We have initiated necessary policies and programs to provide budgetary relief, incentives, and stimulus packages to the affected people and sectors, including the tourism sector.
Nepal has scrupulously been executing safety, health and sanitation protocols in all tourism related activities supported by awareness programs at people’s level. Domestic and international flights are being gradually opened ensuring compliance with proper health and security measures. Our focus is to save jobs and keep the economy afloat, and revive the travel and hospitality industry following new set of norms and health protocols.
We are keen to work with fellow member states in boosting the testing, tracing, screening and treatment of the Covid-19 patients. Synchronized and effective systems need to be put in place for testing of international travellers at the source, transit and destination countries to reduce the health risk and develop confidence of the travellers.
Close cooperation among the member states as well as partnership with private business is critically important for bringing the tourism sector to normality, particularly while opening international borders, flights, and peoples’ movement.
Sharing of best practices, knowledge, skills and experiences in this regard would also be highly crucial so as to sustain the new norms in the new normal and prevent sudden upsurge of the pandemic.
In parallel, we need to ensure easy and affordable access to vaccines and other essential medical items to check the virus and gradually return to the normalcy.
As an emerging global economic powerhouse, Asia assumes the leading role in global trade, supply chain, and innovation. Blessed with abundant natural and human resources; and, being a rich mosaic of diverse history, culture, civilization, geography, economies and political systems; the continent truly holds a high potential for socio-economic development, technological advancement and prosperity.
Development and improvement of quality of infrastructure is a key to build connectivity in ACD region, economic integration, inclusive growth and people-to-people contact. For a landlocked country like Nepal, ensuring all modes of connectivity will be the key enabler to narrow the development gap and achieve equitable and inclusive growth.
Equally vital would be the promotion of investment and business activities in such priority areas as agriculture, energy, connectivity, tourism, education, science, technology and innovation, as well as sustainable development.
It is imperative to enhance cooperation and collaboration for mitigation and adaption of the adverse impacts of climate change and natural disasters.
Nepal accords high priority to regional cooperation. We have full confidence on principles, values and goals of ACD. We stand ready to proactively engage with the fellow Member States to advance the ACD process.
We believe that ACD can play a significant role in strengthening mutual trust, forging common understanding, and promoting cooperation and collaboration among the Member States for peace, stability, shared development, and prosperity of the Asian nations.
I thank you all.