H.E. Mr. Arthit Outrairat, Minster of Science, Technology and Environment of Thailand,
Mr. Sun Mengxin, Lead Shepherd of the Industrial Science and Technology Working Group,
Ms. Kobkeao Akarakupt, Director of Policy and Planning, Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment,

Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen.

It gives me great pleasure and honor to meet all of you at this 18th IST Working Group Meeting, which affords me an opportunity to discuss and exchange views with you on issues before us. Since many of you are prominent experts in science and technology, this experience will surely deepen my understanding of the process of and the meaningful work undertaken by this working group.
Before touching on the substance, I will not miss the opportunity to express thanks to the Government of Thailand and the local Authorities of Pattaya for the excellent arrangements and warm hospitality extended to us since our arrival. Pattaya is a world renowned resort. I believe that the picturesque scenery provides a relaxed atmosphere for the IST WG to work out all matters in a more creative, cooperative and effective manner, thereby making a fresh start of the work of IST WG in the year 2000.
With the arrival of the new millennium, one can not but be even more convinced that science and technology will continue to be the pivotal driving force for the advancement of mankind in the new century. Fully recognizing this, APEC has attached and will continue to accord a high priority to science and technology cooperation. Such cooperation constitutes one of the three important pillars of APEC, namely economic and technical cooperation, along with trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, and has contributed to the attainment of APEC's objectives of enhancing the economic development and achieving common prosperity for all member economies.
IST WG has been widely regarded as the primary vehicle for promoting the objectives of economic and technical cooperation set by our leaders in Bogor, Manila and successive gatherings. I believe that this working group will continue to take a leading role in seizing the new opportunities and tackling new challenges arising in the age of information and science and new technology.
The Asian financial crisis we have witnessed in the past two years has added more necessity and urgency to the strengthening of cooperation in the field of science and technology. At the present, most of the crisis-ridden APEC economies are on the path to recovery. There has been growing recognition among member economies of the essential role that science and technology cooperation can play in the post-crisis economic development, especially in building up the capacity of member economies which will enable them not only to consolidate the recovery and embark upon a sustainable and healthy economic growth, but also equip them with ways and means to minimize the negative effects of globalization and prevent recurrence of similar crisis in the future. In this respect, the IST WG can make its contribution by developing effective and result-oriented projects and activities, notably those which can enhance capacity building of the member economies, so as to help revive the dynamism of the region?s economy.
This year, Brunei, in cooperation with other member economies, has set three sub-themes under the overarching theme of "Delivering to the Community," namely "Building stronger Foundation," and "Creating New Opportunities through developing science and technology" and "Making APEC Matter More".
APEC aims to achieve substantial outcomes in each of these themes. The IST WG can contribute towards meeting this objective by producing practical and concrete deliverables that Ministers and Leaders can announce in November this year. In particular, the second theme relates directly to the activities of the IST WG. It includes development of a dynamic E-commerce framework, effective training, broadening access to technology, developing a knowledge-based economy and nurturing entrepreneurship and venture capital for small and medium enterprises.
In recent years, the IST WG has made great stride in promoting science and technology cooperations among member economies through implementing Agenda for Science and Technology Industry Cooperation in the 21st Century and Mexico Declaration. Its initial but meaningful work has been acknowledged by Leaders and Ministers. I encourage the IST WG to continue its endeavor with a view to building up the momentum in science and technology cooperation among member economies.
Before concluding my remarks, I would like to compliment the working group for establishing an Ad Hoc Task Force on Gender to examine how gender issues can be integrated in the IST WG's work program. I also applaud the positive step taken by working group to invite the Chair of ESC to this meeting. I am sure that this will help him gain a first hand perspective of the actual operation of the WG and assist him in his responsibility for the coordination of APEC's Ecotech agenda.
I understand that today and tomorrow the IST WG will deliberate on many important topics across a wide range of issues including the environment, medical science and SMEs. As you map out IST WG's annual operational plan and develop mid-term plans, and prepare for the 4th IST Ministerial, it is important to bear in mind the relevant decisions and taskings arising from the last year's Leaders meeting in Auckland and to produce outcomes that will "make APEC matter more" to the people of our economies.
I wish you all the best in your deliberation and in your efforts to advance APEC goals.
Thank you.