|Photo: VGP/Hai Minh
The following is full translation of the article of H.E. Mr. Pham Binh Minh, Politburo member, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Chairman of the National Committee on APEC 2017:
APEC Host illustrates the dynamic, leading and responsible role of this prominent economic cooperation mechanism in the Asia – Pacific region. APEC Viet Nam 2017 has been sailing only half way. However, looking into what have been achieved, all friends and partners from APEC members and non-members appreciate and highly value the thoughtful, professional organization as well as the active, constructive initiatives of Viet Nam in promoting cooperation and connectivity in APEC.
Viet Nam hosts the APEC Year for the second time when complicated developments emerge in the world and around the region. It is time when APEC is accelerating the attainment of the Bogor Goals of free and open trade and investment by 2020, there are a lot of obstacles against globalization and economic linkages. However, nearly 10 years after the global financial crisis in 2008-2009, we are now witnessing more positive developments, including the new prospective signals in global and regional economic and trade growth. That reality places the nagivators of APEC on the same boat to join hands to bring a more significant shift to the Forum, and hence bringing more substantial benefits to the people and businesses. Therefore, the international community considers APEC Viet Nam 2017 both as a challenge as well as an opportunity to boost growth and connectivity in Asia-Pacific region and in the world, contributing to the maintenance of peace, stablity and development in the turbulent world.
APEC 2017 – The strategic vision of Viet Nam’s foreign policy
The APEC Year 2017 is a significant opportunity to highlight the spirit and intellectual capacity of Viet Nam’s foreign affairs, particularly the multi-lateral diplomacy while the country has been actively accelerating comprehensive integration. The succesful host of APEC Year 2006 and the increasingly higher international position from excellently completing the missions in may organizations and fora in the recent years have brought Viet Nam into APEC Year 2017 with a new manner.
The fact that the theme “Creating new dynamism, fostering a shared future” are welcomed and cherished by international friends and partners comes with a reason. Taking on the recent achievements of APEC cooperation, Viet Nam has introduced four pillars on fostering sustainable, innovative and inclusive growth; deepening regional economic integration; strengthening MSMEs’ competitiveness and innovation in the digital age; enhancing food security and sustainable agriculture in response to climate change. These focuses meet the interests and benefits of member economies, reflect the common trend in international cooperation and also serve the socio-economic development demand of the country in the new period.
The identification of the right topics, priorities and directions of cooperation of APEC 2017 clearly reflects the strategic vision of Viet Nam's foreign policy. First and foremost, it is the vision of a peaceful, stable and dynamic Asia-Pacific that continues to be the driving force of regional and global economic growth and linkages. Among them, the APEC Forum, the ASEAN Community, Mekong Subregional Cooperation Mechanisms, bilateral and multilateral Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) ... co-developed and complemented each other, forming a sustainable and comprehensive regional architecture. That strategic vision is driven by the strong belief that the 21st century needs to be shaped by equality, mutual benefit and fundamental principles of international law, not by the "zero sum” (lose-win) principle, especially in economic, trade and investment cooperation. All regional countries, whether or not they are APEC members, share the common interest in building Asia-Pacific partnership for sustainable and inclusive development in the 21st century.
Second, APEC activities this year should create the new impetus to promote growth and increase regional economic integration to a new height, reiterate that the Forum is for the people and businesses. APEC needs more impetus for quality growth, structural reform, inclusive social-economic-financial development, strengthening connectivity, developing global value chains, collaborating on the next-generation economic - commercial issues... At the same time, it is high time to accelerate effort to complete the Bogor Goals, maintain regional momentum in such frameworks as the Transatlantic Economic Partnership (TPP), Economic Partnership Comprehensive Regional (RCEP) ..., towards the formation of the Asia-Pacific Free Trade Area (FTAAP).
Third, 2017 is expected to be the year to continue affirming the APEC's role as a forum for initiating ideas, directing and coordinating economic linkages, thereby promoting the building of a sustainable transparent, highly-adaptable, regional architecture, which ensure the complementarity and harmonization of multi-layered mechanisms. Representing 39% of the world's population, contributing 57% of GDP and 49% of global trade, APEC also needs to continue to promote its pioneering role in the global effort for sustainable development and adaptation to climate change, promotion of multilateral trading system and addressing common challenges such as the adverse effects of globalization and digitalization, increased inequality...
Fourth, after 28 years of formation and development, this is also an important time to shape the APEC Vision for the post 2020 period. That vision should clearly define the objectives, long-term direction and pillars of cooperation for the Forum in the next 10-15 years. Promoting the spirit of equal, voluntary and non-binding cooperation for mutual benefits is necessary to ensure the dynamism and attractiveness of APEC in the area with diverse history, culture, society and development level.
With those in mind, the APEC Year 2017 promises to create a new momentum for the Forum. This is also a great opportunity for Viet Nam to join hands to shape the future of not only APEC but also regional economic structure. APEC 2017 also reaffirms that multilateral foreign cooperation is an important mainstay for nations, large and small, to foster interests and improve positions in a globalized world.
Higher position, more substantial benefits
For Viet Nam, APEC is one of the most important multilateral fora and offers the most substantial benefits. The Forum brings together 13 of 25 Viet Nam’s strategic partners and comprehensive partners, and many of Viet Nam's leading economic and trade partners. 18 APEC members are the key partners in bilateral and multilateral free trade agreements to which Viet Nam is a signatory. APEC members account for 78% of foreign direct investment, 75% of trade in goods, 38% of official development assistance, and 79% of Viet Nam’s international tourist arrivals. Approximately 80% of overseas Vietnamese students are studying in APEC member economies.
Therefore, the APEC Year 2017 is an important lynchpin of Viet Nam’s diplomacy and the most significant contribution of our country to APEC cooperation in the period of extensive and intensive international integration. Together with taking the role of ASEAN Chair in 2020 and running for the United Nations Security Council 2020-2021 as well as completing the WTO accession commitments in 2018, the APEC Year 2017 will contribute to the consistent realization of the very important policy of the 12th National Party Congress "to improve the quality and effectiveness of multilateral foreign affairs and proactively contribute to the building and shaping of multilateral mechanisms".
The support and active participation of APEC member economies, regional and international organizations to APEC 2017 efforts will be a catalyst for Viet Nam to promote "soft power." It is no accident that Viet Nam became the first APEC host country to be invited to the G-20 meetings this year. That reflects the trust and appreciation of international friends for initiatives and ideas beyond the region that Viet Nam has proposed for APEC. Obviously, the APEC Year 2017 activities have been and will contribute to affirm the increasingly important role of the Forum as well as its worthy position in regional and global governance.
Activities in 2017 will also provide opportunities for our country to bring the established partnership into deepened and stable frameworks and particularly enhance long-term interests with key APEC members. During the APEC High-level Week in November, several meetings, official visits by senior APEC leaders to Viet Nam have been scheduled to further deepen bilateral relations and enhance coordination in regional and international affairs.
From a socio-economic perspective, completing the Bogor Goals, implementing APEC Strategies and Action Plans and fulfilling commitments under ASEAN FTAs will provide the driving force for economic reform and restructuring, transforming the growth model and improving the business and investment environment in our country. It is a precondition to realize the determination to build the facilitating Government of integrity whose mission is to act and serve the people and businesses.
For localities and businesses, about 200 APEC activities in 2017 will bring many opportunities for cooperation, businesses, investment, tourism... The APEC High-level Week in Da Nang will attract about 10,000 delegates from regional and international leading businesses and major media conglomerates. It is a golden opportunity to promote the image of a dynamic and active Viet Nam as well as improve the comparative advantages of localities and regions throughout the country. This is also chance for ministries, industries, localities and enterprises to sharpen their capabilities to integrate into the world, contributing to the country's integration culture.
Up to now, it can be said that APEC's activities have proceeded smoothly, meeting the set objectives. This achievement is attributed to the unanimity of all levels and sectors, from central to local as well as the business community, experts, scholars and the people. With the new strength and position of the country after more than 30 years of Doi Moi, with the support and precious help of friends and partners, the APEC Viet Nam 2017 will definitely be a great success, contributing to our development and security interests, while highlighting our country's new vision and position.