The 13th Summit of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM13)-Cambodia 2020

Preliminary Concept Note


1. Since its inception in 1996 ASEM has changed significantly to adapt itself to the fast transforming global environment marked by an increasingly multipolar world, and a more progressively interdependent Asian region. The substantive process now covers much more ground, reflecting newly emerging global challenges that Asia and Europe need to tackle together. With its substantially enlarged membership, ASEM has taken incremental steps to strengthen practical cooperation and coordination, and to translate its informal dialogue process into tangible outcomes and common policies that serve the peoples from both regions.

2. As ASEM is about to mark its first quarter of a century of existence, it is incumbent upon us to ensure that ASEM remains a responsible and relevant inter-regional forum. With a clear vision and concrete actions, ASEM can bring more benefits to its people and make even greater contribution to the peace, stability, prosperity and development of the world.

3. Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen places paramount importance on ASEM Summits as attested by his engagement at previous Summits in Vientiane, Milan, Ulaanbaatar and Brussels. As the turn of Asia to host the Summit in 2020 arrives, the opportunity opens up for Cambodia to step in, thus offering the country a platform to contribute to the ASEM process. More importantly, hosting the Summit reflects Cambodia's commitment at its highest level to the advancement of multilateralism as much as its active engagement with the international community to tackle current and emerging global challenges.

4. Over the last 70 years, multilateralism has been the backbone of free trade, investment promotion, technological transfer, and people-to-people contact as well as collective efforts in addressing global challenges. As the world is rapidly moving towards a multipolar order, with the deepened interdependence and interconnectedness among states and rising complex interactions, it is of strategic importance that Asia and Europe stand together to protect and strengthen multilateralism based on the principles of informality, flexibility, and mutual respect in the spirits of consensus and equal partnership.

Theme of ASEM13: “Strengthening Multilateralism for Shared Growth”

5. The theme of ASEM13 aims to reflect the common aspirations and interests of all ASEM members to stay true to their mission of building a strong, vibrant and comprehensive partnership as ASEM looks ahead to the next decade of its existence.

6. Cambodia’s proposed theme “Strengthening Multilateralism for Shared Growth” reflects the Kingdom’s efforts to promote ASEM as one of the cornerstones of global governance. Its thematic concept focuses on the interaction of four main ideas: Multilateralism, Growth, Sustainable Development and Prosperity. Reflecting the key principle that the prosperity of both continents is the ultimate objective of the ASEM process, the Summit will reinforce Asia-Europe partnership to ensure that multilateralism can bring about global growth that is not only “sustainable” but can also be “shared”.

7. Multilateralism has evidently been at the core of global growth for many decades. Therefore, Asia and Europe need to “strengthen” it at a minimum and to make it “effective” at the maximum in light of rising protectionism and unilateralism. In this connection, the relevance of ASEM lies on how much it can prove itself as a building block for effective multilateralism and the rules-based international order, anchored in international law and with the United Nations at its core.

8. An effective multilateralism should be inclusive and future-oriented and contribute to the promotion of peace, stability, and prosperity. It also needs to fulfill two important tasks: (i) tackling global challenges including climate change, meeting sustainable development goals, inequality, migration, and the fight against terrorism and violent extremism; and (ii) harnessing the opportunities arising from a strong connectivity agenda and an improved multilateral trading system that will generate new sources of economic growth.


9. Cambodia has commissioned the design of a logo for the ASEM13 Summit which invokes the unique nature of the Asia-Europe genuine and enduring friendship. Equal partnership and shared prosperity are the hallmarks of our relationship. The official logo of ASEM13 Summit is attached herewith in Annex I.


10. To maximize the leaders’ heavy summitry schedule in the region, Cambodia proposes to hold the ASEM Summit toward the end of 2020 around the 36th ASEAN Summit in Viet Nam and the APEC Summit in Malaysia. In this regard, Cambodia proposes to hold ASEM13 Summit on 16-17 November 2020 in Phnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia.

Honored Guests and Participants

11. The ASEM13 Summit will gather Heads of State/Government of 51 European and Asian countries, the President of the European Commission and the Secretary-General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). This impressive gathering of leaders who represents around 60 per cent of the world's population, 65 per cent of the global GDP and almost 55 per cent of the world's trade, 75 per cent of global tourism, will mark the biggest historical event ever to be held in Cambodia's contemporary history.


The 13th ASEM Summit will be a timely opportunity to reaffirm the importance of Asia-Europe partnership and to reinforce a constructive cooperation in dealing with global and regional issues of mutual interest. Our common endeavours are to:

  • deepen inter-regional connectivity for sustainable development and shared growth;
  • enhance inter-regional partnership for global governance;
  • make rules-based multilateral system more effective;
  • harness innovation, digital connectivity, and industrial revolution 4.0;
  • strengthen ASEM’s visibility and relevance;
  • address inter alia cross-cutting issues such as climate change, poverty, women empowerment, and other transnational challenges.


12. The Leaders’ Summit will have the following potential outcomes:

  • Cambodia hopes to have a visionary “Phnom Penh Declaration” that will project ASEM’s narrative of continued relevance in the 21st century, a compelling vision of a thriving well-connected Asia-Europe marketplace.
  • For the content of the Chair’s statement, Cambodia is of the view that it should be short, concise and balanced, reflecting the consensus with a focus on “issues that bind us rather than those that divide us”.
  • Other outcomes would include, inter alia, strengthening partnership with multiple stakeholders such as state institutions, private sector and civil society, with the objective of promoting the public awareness of ASEM and further enhancing coordination mechanisms with a view to addressing ASEM’s shortcomings and improving its performance well into its third decade.

Side Events

13. As the host country, Cambodia would also undertake supporting events and activities throughout the year of the Summit to enhance the visibility and awareness of ASEM. Seven major events are planned, in line with the traditional practices of the ASEM process, namely: (1) the Asia-Europe Parliamentary Partnership Meeting where parliamentarians from all the 51 ASEM Member States will be brought together; (2) the Asia-Europe Economic and Business Forum, designed to strengthen private sector participation to deepen business-to-business cooperation, with a special focus on small and medium sized enterprises between the two continents; (3) the ASEF Young Leaders Summit, whose objective is to , among others, further empower the role and participation of young people through a “model ASEM”; (4) the ASEF Editors' Roundtable; (5) the Asia-Europe Labour Forum; (6) the Asia-Europe People’s Forum; and (7) the ASEM Cultural Festival. The details of ASEM13 Side Events is enclosed herewith in Annex II.

14. The ASEM Cultural Festival is expected to catch the attention of the ASEM delegates as Cambodia will seize the occasion to promote this event as its “Cultural Diplomacy”. Clearly, cultural diplomacy and cultural cooperation can act as an engine for social and economic development, especially by fostering cooperation amongst European and Asian countries, which are rich in culture. The magnificent cultural events in Siem Reap will provide ASEM delegates an opportunity to appreciate our ancient civilization through the marvels of the Angkor world heritage site and the richness of Cambodian culture intertwined in an inter-cultural dialogue among other ASEM partners.

15. Other side events will be held with the support and collaboration of the Asia-Europe Foundation.