MoIT’s contributions to Asia-Pacific economic integration

09:32 | 13/02/2018 Cooperation

(VEN) - On the occasion of the Lunar New Year, Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh shared with Vietnam Economic News’ Thu Hang Vietnam’s highlights, in general, as well as the contributions of the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT), in particular, to the success of APEC 2017 events. 

moits contributions to asia pacific economic integration

You have been the chair of many significant events in Vietnam’s hosting of APEC 2017, the annual activities of the 21-member Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum. Could you share with us your impressions of these activities?

The year 2017 marked Vietnam’s outstanding success in hosting APEC events, which peaked with a summit week in the city of Da Nang with the participation of leaders of the world’s largest economies, such as the US, China and Japan, and their bilateral meetings with Vietnamese leaders. The summit gathered more than 21,000 participants from foreign countries and international organizations, and 2,000 representatives of leading domestic and international groups, and witnessed the signing of 121 agreements worth more than US$20 billion. Vietnam, as the host, was successful in drawing the attention of all member economies to APEC 2017’s theme “Creating new dynamism, fostering a shared future” and to four priorities for achieving this goal. These are: 1) promoting sustainable, creative and inclusive growth; 2) deepening and expanding regional economic linkages; 3) enhancing competitiveness and creativity of micro, small and medium enterprises; and 4) strengthening food security and agricultural sustainability to cope with climate change.

As deputy chair of the National Committee for APEC 2017 and co-head of its sub-committee for contents, the MoIT chaired the 23rd Ministers Responsible for Trade (MRT) Meeting from May 19-21. Together with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it co-chaired the 29th APEC Ministerial Meeting (AMM). The MoIT also headed the Vietnam-APEC Senior Officials Meeting (SOM), as it has done since Vietnam joined the forum in 1998, and coordinated with the APEC 2017 National Secretariat to organize four SOMs since December 2016. The MoIT proposed the following two initiatives to APEC 2017:

1) Building an APEC framework for cross-border e-commerce facilitation (chaired by Vietnam): This was the first time APEC proposed a joint framework to develop e-commerce cooperation;

2) APEC best practices for promoting support industries in the Asia-Pacific region (co-chaired by Vietnam and Japan): Achieving a consensus among APEC members on enhancing regional cooperation in promoting support industries is of great significance for Vietnam and developing economies, helping enhance their competitiveness, generate jobs, and promoting the participation of micro, small and medium enterprises in support industries. APEC members supported these two initiatives and recorded them in the statements of the 25th APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting (AELM) and AMM 29. APEC members also agreed to make the APEC Cross-border E-commerce Facilitation Framework one of the four appendixes of the AMM 29 statement.

moits contributions to asia pacific economic integration
A bilateral discussion between the Vietnamese Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Malaysian Ministry of International Trade and Industry

Could you share the significance of these results?

1) Further affirming APEC’s role as an open regional economic cooperation forum focusing on trade and investment liberalization and facilitation

The year 2017 was a very difficult year for APEC cooperation in the context of changes in foreign and trade policies of the new US administration. However, with determination, patience and flexibility, Vietnam successfully hosted APEC 2017 events which affirmed the important role of multilateral trade and reiterated support for multilateral trade, contributing to the success of the World Trade Organization’s 11th Ministerial Conference (MC 11).

Vietnam and other APEC members have contributed to protecting and strengthening APEC’s image as a leading forum in opening the market and supporting other multilateral cooperation mechanisms, including the World Trade Organization. During and after the 2017 APEC Summit, the ministers in charge of trade of some member countries met and expressed their thanks to Vietnamese leaders for maintaining a consensus and even making a progress in a year considered as the most difficult time for APEC cooperation so far. Vietnam’s decision to extend AMM 29, which required the leaders of member states to sit together to achieve a consensus and persuade large economies to change their views, was a decision without precedent and one of the decisive factors in the success of the summit. Some ASEAN ministers in charge of trade also sent letters expressing appreciation for Vietnam’s role in maintaining regional cooperation and promoting the role of this grouping in APEC.

2) Kicking off discussions to build APEC’s vision for the future

Right before the 2017 APEC Summit, Vietnam and other APEC members achieved consensus on developing a post-2020 vision for APEC through the establishment of an APEC Vision Group (AVG). The group will be established in May 2018 to discuss and prepare a post-2020 vision report for submission to APEC leaders by 2020, the time scheduled for the accomplishment of the Bogor goals. This was a highlight of APEC 2017.

3) Contributing to promoting new cooperation mechanisms in the region

Despite differences in views between member economies in implementing the Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific (FTAAP), Vietnam, as the host of APEC 2017, persuaded member economies to reach a consensus on furthering the implementation of the Action Plan on the Lima FTAAP Declaration and designing plans to support their participation in high quality FTAs in the future. Vietnam successfully organized sessions at a ministerial level and meetings between the heads of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiation delegations. Through these meetings, the 11 remaining members of the TPP agreed to bring the pact into force without the United States under a new name, the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

4) Promoting initiatives on boosting regional economic integration

The MoIT maintained tight coordination with the APEC 2017 National Secretariat, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other ministries and sectors to promote major initiatives during APEC Year 2017. Six major initiatives were adopted, including 1) an action plan for economic, financial and social inclusion; 2) a framework on human resources development in the digital age; 3) a framework for cross-border e-commerce facilitation; 4) a strategy for green, sustainable and innovative micro, small and medium enterprises; 5) an action plan on food security and climate change; and 6) an action plan on rural-urban development to strengthen food security and quality growth.

5) Taking advantage of APEC economic and technical cooperation

Vietnam has taken the initiative in proposing capacity-building activities for APEC members, especially developing economies, including Vietnam. The MoIT organized many public-private dialogues, workshops and symposiums in fields such as supply chain connection, services, FTAAP, trade and innovation, logistics, e-commerce, startup business, regional and free trade agreements (RTAs and FTAs), and energy.

Thu Hang