Regional cooperation advances boosted through ASEAN Future Forum network

April 24, 2024 | 11:46
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For the first time in the history of ASEAN, Vietnam will hold the ASEAN Future Forum this week as the country’s largest multilateral event with an aim to further boost intra-bloc in economic, trade, and investment cooperation. Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Do Hung Viet talked with VIR’s Nguyen Dat about how important the event is to regional cooperation.

How will trade and investment cooperation be featured at the ASEAN Future Forum 2024 (AFF)?

Themed “Towards fast and sustainable growth of a people-centred ASEAN Community”, the AFF 2024 is expected to feature speeches by PM Pham Minh Chinh, Laotian PM Sonexay Siphandone as ASEAN chair for 2024, the ASEAN secretary-general, and a recorded message from the United Nations secretary-general.

Regional cooperation advances boosted through ASEAN Future Forum network
Do Hung Viet - deputy minister of Foreign Affairs

The AFF will feature participation from a large number of enterprises and investors from member states and ASEAN’s partner states, representatives from international organisations, high-profile experts, and scholars.

The event is focused on rapid and sustainable development, which is only achieved with the significant role played by the investors and businesses community with specific and feasible projects.

The AFF will exclusively see a dedicated roundtable for investors and enterprises on taking advantage of opportunities in digital transformation for development. Both Vietnamese and Laotian PMs will co-host this roundtable, which will also be joined by many scholars and businesses and investors from Vietnam, ASEAN member states, and the bloc’s partner states.

This will be a huge opportunity for investors and enterprises to meet and share their ideas and search for new cooperation deals and projects.

At the event, will there be any updates of ASEAN’s trade-related agreements, such as a new version of the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement?

This will depend on the panellists. For example, the event will see a recorded message from the Indian minister of external affairs, who may mention some kind of update. At present, ASEAN and India are reviewing the ASEAN-India Trade in Goods Agreement, with a new version expected to benefit both ASEAN and India. However, let’s wait for what is said at the AFF.

The AFF will aim to build up a people-centred ASEAN community. This is a principal need of ASEAN, given the bloc is facing massive challenges in economic and trade development and investment expansion, as well as non-traditional challenges such as climate change, natural disasters, epidemics, and supply chain disruptions.

How important is the AFF 2024 to promoting the role of Vietnam within ASEAN?

This year, the AFF will be the largest multilateral event of Vietnam. It demonstrates the country’s active and proactive move in contributing to ASEAN’s sustainable development, and the nation’s wish to make bigger contributions to the bloc’s efforts in enhancing economic, trade, and investment cooperation.

I do believe that Vietnam will successfully organise this event, laying a big foundation for the country to continue organising the similar events in the next years. As we expect, the AFF will be used by participating nations, experts, investors, and businesses to advance new ideas, so that regional leaders can use as an input for formulating and implementing strategies and visions of ASEAN.

This event is not for nations to make new trade and investment commitments, but instead to make new ideas and proposals to promote intra-bloc trade and investment ties. New commitments will be made at upcoming events at ministerial and prime ministerial level events.

At the end of the event there will be a report on the results of discussions, which will be sent to regional leaders and ministers for consideration. There will also a shared proposal of ASEAN sent to the United Nations, which will organise its Summit of the Future on September 22-23.

The AFF, to be organised in Hanoi on April 23, seeks to provide a platform for ASEAN member states, partners, and stakeholders to shape the bloc’s future trajectory as it enters a pivotal stage of development.

Discussions will focus on the future of ASEAN in light of rapid and complex developments around the world. The plan to organise the event was announced by Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh at the 43rd ASEAN Summit in Jakarta in September 2023.Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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