Vietnam will make the best use of open opportunities for result-oriented cooperation generated by the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) to serve its socio-economic development and improve its position in the international arena, head of the Vietnamese ASEM Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) Nguyen Minh Hang has said.
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In an interview with the Vietnam News Agency (VNA) on the occasion of ASEM Day (March 1), Hang said Vietnam will continue to join other ASEM members in enhancing the Asia-Europe partnership and promoting ASEM’s role.
ASEM cooperation is crucial to the country’s reform, development and integration, she said, adding that close cooperation with other ASEM members and participation in the forum have benefitted the country and its businesses and people.
The official explained that among Vietnam’s 28 strategic and comprehensive partners, 22 are ASEM members, and all ASEM members are the country’s leading economic and trading partners. In combination, they account for 70 percent of the country’s total foreign direct investment (FDI) and international trade value, and 80 percent of international tourists.
A total 14 out of 16 free trade agreements (FTA) Vietnam has signed or is negotiating are with ASEM partners.
These figures show ASEM’s significance to the country’s development and international integration, Hang said.
Besides, the forum is an important channel for Vietnam to promote bilateral ties and deepen partnerships, she said, noting that as host of the fifth ASEM Summit in 2004, Vietnam has stepped up its bilateral relations with many key partners.
The official cited significant agreements Vietnam reached at ASEM summits like a deal with the EU on the country’s joining the World Trade Organisation (WTO) at the fifth ASEM Summit, the EU’s decision to propose the EC sign the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) and a trade protection agreement ahead of the 12th ASEM Summit in 2018.
Amid security uncertainties and complicated competition between major countries, ASEM, as the largest dialogue and cooperation mechanism between Asia and Europe, is an important forum for Vietnam to coordinate with the international community in promoting common interests in maintaining peace, security and stability in service of development, and backing the stance of Vietnam and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on settling disputes peacefully on the basis of international law.
ASEM’s initiatives and activities have helped Vietnam optimise practical experience and support of other members, and improve its capacity to deal with issues relating to the interests and concern of people and businesses.
Hang said Vietnam has made use of the EU’s support for lower Mekong countries and its commitments to provide 1.7 billion EUR for Mekong programmes during 2014-2020.
Joining ASEM cooperation, Vietnamese ministries, agencies, businesses and people from all classes have developed an integration mindset, capacity and culture, while promoting the history, traditional culture and development potential of Vietnamese regions to Asian and European friends, she said.
Vietnam’s participation in the forum as a founding member in 1996 marked a milestone in the country’s open foreign policy of multilaterisation and diversification of relations, and international economic integration.
Over the years, Vietnam has proven itself as a dynamic and responsible member of the forum, she stressed.
Vietnam is one of the very few members that have hosted the ASEM Summit and many other important ministerial meetings, she said, underlining the country’s organisation of the fifth ASEM Summit and five ministerial meetings in economy, science-technology, foreign affairs, education and labour with various important documents and plans contributing to creating new momentum for ASEM cooperation, the official elaborated.
Vietnam is also one of the most constructive members in raising cooperation initiatives, she said, adding that the country has proposed and implemented 25 initiatives, and co-sponsored 27 others.
Of note, since 2011, Vietnam has teamed up with other Mekong and Danube countries to raise the initiative for the ASEM cooperation mechanism in managing water resources and heightening Mekong Sub-region collaboration to inter-regional level.
During the process of reform and international integration, Vietnam has always paid attention to elevating the Asia-Europe partnership as well as the forum’s position.
Vietnam will place more importance on intensifying Asia-Europe connectivity through ASEAN, partnerships and bilateral and multilateral cooperation mechanisms, while engaging in big economic networks, including the early signing of the EVFTA.
The country will continue to work, together with other members, to propose initiatives and make more contributions to partnerships in water resource management, tackling natural disasters, vocational training, education and human resources development, and technological connectivity, as well as to matters of common concern of ASEM, the official said.
In 2019, the country will realise the Prime Minister’s initiatives for spurring digital economy in the context of the fourth Industrial Revolution, as well as inclusive socio-economic growth.
At the same time, Vietnam will continue to push ahead with dialogues and collaboration, and promote international law and codes of conduct to maintain peace, security and prosperity in the region and the world at large, Hang said.