Thank you Prime Minister,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I add my voice of thanks to the Cambodian government for hosting this meeting, and for their considerable efforts in preparing for a successful Summit. Indeed, for more than 25 years, the Asia-Europe Meeting has been the most comprehensive partnership between Asia and Europe. It has helped us tackle some of the big challenges of the day. Now, in the years to come, this partnership will be even more important to recover from the pandemic. Together, we need to rebuild a more sustainable and equitable world, and we need to strengthen multilateralism. Because Asia and Europe are closely connected and, together, we have significant weight in the world. Just look at the numbers.
Trade, for example, between Europe and Asia is higher than between any other regions in the world. Europe is the biggest investor in Asia. As ASEM partners, we represent 55% of global trade, 60% of the global population and 65% of the global gross domestic product. Both of our regions benefit enormously from each other. This Summit is an opportunity to strengthen cooperation on issues that matter for the prosperity and security of both our regions and beyond. I look forward to the discussion over the next two days. The European Union will always stand up for the rules-based international system, and ASEM is a key building block in this respect. At the same time, we seek cooperation beyond the geopolitical divides. This is the baseline for our engagement in the Indo-Pacific. It is this spirit that the European Union brings to this ASEM13 Summit. I hope that we can all leave this gathering with a renewed commitment to our partnership.