|Deputy PM, FM Pham Binh Minh
Hosting APEC is a vivid illustration of the dynamic, leading, and responsible role played by each member of this prominent economic cooperation mechanism in the Asia-Pacific region. APEC Vietnam 2017 has been sailing only halfway of the voyage. For what has been achieved, APEC friends and partners all highly appreciate Vietnam’s organisation of the year in a thoughtful and professional manner as well as her active and constructive initiatives to promote co-operation and connectivity in APEC.
Vietnam hosts the APEC Year for the second time when the world and the region are undergoing complicated transformation and developments. While APEC is accelerating the attainment of the Bogor Goals of free and open trade and investment by 2020, some obstacles against globalisation and economic linkages have emerged. However, nearly 10 years has gone by since the global financial crisis in 2008-2009, and we are now witnessing more positive developments, including new prospective signals in global and regional economic and trade growth. The reality presents the navigators of the APEC ship with major responsibility to work together so as to carry more significant new ideas to the forum, and hence bringing about more substantial benefits to the people and businesses. Therefore, the international community considers APEC Vietnam 2017 both as a challenge and an opportunity to boost growth and connectivity in the Asia-Pacific region and in the world, thereby contributing to the maintenance of peace, stability, and development in a turbulent world.
APEC Vietnam 2017 – the strategic vision of Vietnam’s foreign policy
The APEC Year 2017 is an important opportunity to highlight the spirit and intellectual capacity of Vietnam’s diplomacy, particularly the multi-lateral diplomacy in the comprehensive integration of the country. The successes of APEC Year 2006 and the prestige gained through her high responsibility in various international organisations have brought Vietnam to APEC Year 2017 spotlight with a new stature.
It is by no accident that the theme “Creating new dynamism, fostering a shared future” is welcomed and nurtured by international friends and partners. In the continuation of recent achievements of APEC co-operation, Vietnam has introduced four
priorities on fostering sustainable, innovative, and inclusive growth; deepening regional economic integration; strengthening micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises’ (MSMEs) competitiveness and innovation in the digital age; and enhancing food security and sustainable agriculture in response to climate change. These meet the interests and benefits of member economies, reflecting the common trend in international co-operation, and equally serving the socio-economic development demand of our country in a new period as well.
The identification of the right theme, priorities, and directions of co-operation for APEC Year 2017 clearly reflects the strategic vision of Vietnam’s foreign policy. First and foremost, it is the vision of a peaceful, stable, and dynamic Asia-Pacific which continues to be the driver of regional and global economic growth and linkages in which the APEC Forum, the ASEAN Community, the Mekong Sub-
regional Cooperation Mechanisms, and bilateral and multilateral Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) co-developed and complemented each other, thereby 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 co-operation. All economies in the region, whether they are APEC members or not, share the common interest in building Asia-Pacific partnerships 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 and to reiterate that the Forum is for the people and businesses. APEC needs more impetus for quality growth, structural reform, and inclusive socio-economic and financial development. It should also help strengthen connectivity, develop global value chains, and facilitate collaboration on the next-generation of economic-commercial issues. At the same time, other pressing needs include accelerating efforts to completely obtain the Bogor Goals and maintaining regional momentum in such frameworks as the Transatlantic Economic Partnership (TPP) and the Economic Partnership Comprehensive Regional (RCEP) toward the formation of the Asia-Pacific Free Trade Area (FTAAP).
Third, 2017 is expected to be the year to continue affirming APEC’s role as a forum for initiating ideas, directing and co-ordinating economic linkages, thereby promoting the building of a sustainable, transparent, and highly-adaptable regional architecture which ensures the complementarity and harmonisation of multi-layered mechanisms.
Accounting for 39 per cent of the world’s population, 57 per cent of GDP, and 49 per cent of global trade, APEC should continue to promote its pioneering role in the global effort for sustainable development and adaptation to climate change, for the promotion of multilateral trading systems and to address common challenges such as the adverse effects of globalisation and digitalisation and increased inequality.
Fourth, after 28 years into its 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 co-operation for the forum in the next 10-15 years. Promoting the spirit of equal, voluntary, and non-binding co-operation for mutual benefits is necessary to guarantee the dynamism and attractiveness of APEC with a diverse history of culture and development levels.
Bearing that in mind, the APEC Year 2017 promises to create a new momentum for the forum. This is also a great opportunity for Vietnam to join hands with other members to shape the future of not only APEC, but also the regional economic structure. APEC 2017 again serves as a solid testimony that multilateral diplomacy is an important mainstay for nations, large or small, to foster their interests and improve their position in a world of extensive globalisation.
Higher position, more substantial benefits
For Vietnam, APEC is one of the most important multilateral fora, which offers the most substantial benefits. Thirteen out of 25 of Vietnam’s major strategic and comprehensive partners and many of Vietnam’s leading economic and trade partners come from the Forum. Eighteen APEC members are key partners in bilateral and multilateral free trade agreements (FTAs), to which Vietnam is a signatory. APEC members account for 78 per cent of foreign direct investment (FDI), 75 per cent of trade in goods, 38 per cent of official development assistance (ODA), and 79 per cent of Vietnam’s international tourist arrivals. Approximately 80 per cent of overseas Vietnamese students are studying in APEC member economies.
Therefore, the APEC Year 2017 is an important lynchpin of Vietnam’s diplomacy and the most significant contribution of our country to APEC co-operation in the period of extensive and intensive international integration.
Together with assuming the role of ASEAN Chair in 2020, running for the United Nations Security Council 2020-2021 and fulfilling the WTO accession commitments by 2018, the successful APEC Vietnam 2017 will contribute to the consistent realisation of the very important policy of the 12th National Party Congress “to improve the quality and effectiveness of multilateral diplomacy and proactively contribute to the building and shaping of multilateral mechanisms”.
The support and active participation of APEC member economies, regional and international organisations to APEC 2017 efforts will serve as a lever for Vietnam to promote “soft power.” It is by no accident that Vietnam became the first APEC host to be invited to the G-20 meetings this year. That reflects the trust and appreciation of international friends for initiatives and ideas above and beyond the regional norms that Vietnam has proposed for APEC. Obviously, the APEC Year 2017 activities have and will continue to affirm the increasingly important role of the forum and Vietnam’s deserving stature in regional and global governance.
Activities in 2017 will also provide opportunities for our country to deepen the established partnership within stable and sustainable frameworks, and particularly enhance long-term and interwoven interests with key APEC members. During the 2017 APEC Economic Leaders’ Week in November, several meetings and official visits by senior APEC leaders and officials to Vietnam have been scheduled to further strengthen bilateral relations and reinforce co-ordination in regional and international affairs.
From a socio-economic perspective, the endeavor to complete the Bogor Goals, to implement APEC Strategies and Action Plans, together with our efforts to fulfill commitments under ASEAN’s FTAs will provide the driving force for economic reform and restructuring, transfiguration of the growth model, and improvement of the business and investment environment of our country. It is a prerequisite to realise the determination to build a government of development facilitation and integrity whose mission is to act and serve the people and businesses.
For localities and businesses, various opportunities for co-operation, businesses, investment, and tourism will be brought about through approximately 200 APEC activities in 2017. The 2017 APEC Economic Leaders’ Week in Danang will attract some 10,000 delegates from regional and international leading businesses and major mainstream media. This will serve as a golden opportunity to promote the image of a dynamic and active Vietnam, and to improve the comparative advantages of localities and regions across the country. This is also a chance for ministries, government agencies, industries, localities and enterprises to acuminate their capabilities to integrate into the world, thus contributing to promoting the country’s culture of integration.
It can be said by now that APEC’s activities have proceeded smoothly, meeting the set objectives. This achievement is attributed to the unanimity of all state 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 over 30 years of Renovation (Doi moi), with the support and precious assistance of our friends and partners, the APEC Vietnam 2017 will definitely be a great success, contributing to our development and security interests, while highlighting our country’s new vision and position.