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July 4, 2008

Energy crisis: Asean chief urges members to work together
Southeast Asia's governments must strive to work together in response to the world energy crisis, according to the head of the Association for South East Asian Nations (Asean).

Asean Secretary-General Surin Pitsuwan on Thursday called on all 10 countries in the group to join together to cope with the ongoing world energy crisis.

The continued surge in global oil prices, Dr. Surin warned, in a keynote speech on the "Management and Development of Thailand under the Economic and Social Conditions of Asean," are what most concerns and affects the organisation and its membership now.

Thailand and other Asean members must respond now to deal together with a rising condition that will not go away.

Dr Surin said South East Asia as a region has sufficient resources to produce food and energy for itself, and to process and export for consumption in the world market.

The secretary-general said that Asean members must actively plan and work together to pool the energy resources of each country so that Asean as a group can boost its bargaining power in other regions.

For instance, Thailand and Myanmar have natural gas resources and Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brunei have oil resources.

At the same time, Laos has natural gas resources and large farming areas suitable for growing plants for alternative energy resources.

Dr Surin revealed that Asean would move from its being an association now to becoming the Asean Community within seven years, a goal to be realised in 2015.

Thailand will host a meeting at the end of this year to celebrate law enforcement under the Asean Community framework. At that forum Asean members could take the opportunity to discuss possible exchanges of agricultural produce and energy outputs.

No one country can on its own 'solve' the oil crisis, whether for itself or for the region,  Dr Surin suggested. But should all members of Asean prepare alternative energy plans, it could reduce dependence on global oil for all the countries of Asean, as a region and individually.

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