Vietnam committed to deeper trade integration with APEC

17:39 | 19/05/2017 Ten Years An APEC

Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh answered questions from the press about the 23rd Ministers Responsible for Trade Meeting (MRT 23) and Vietnam’s policies.

What is your view on trade in the Asia-Pacific region?

Founded in 1989, through 28 years of formation and development, APEC has been regarded as an important economic driver and growth momentum of the Asia-Pacific region, which consists of economies largest in terms of population, richest in terms of economy and most dynamic in terms of production as well as consumption capacity worldwide.

Accordingly, APEC, consisting of 21 economies with a combined population of more than 2.8 billion people, accounting for 59 percent of global GDP and 49 percent of international trade by 2016, has achieved a remarkable increase in GDP from US$16 trillion in 1989 to more than US$20 trillion in 2016.

This has in turn raised people’s incomes in the region by an additional 74 percent, helpedalleviate poverty for millions of household, improved the living standards of a large proportion of the population in the region above average in just over two decades.

With regards to trade, the regional average tariff rates have fallen by almost half, from 11 percent in 1996 to 5.5 percent in 2016. These results are the clearest and most convincing evidence for the efforts of the region as a whole, as well as of each and every member economy, in implementing cooperation activities on liberalization, facilitating trade and investment, ensuring security and safety for the mobility of business and citizensin the region, as well as sharing stability, prosperity and common wealth as desired always by the APEC Leaders from all economies.

According to the most recent forecast as of May 2017 of International Monetary Fund (IMF), economic growth rate of Asia-Pacific region has reached 5.5 percent rather than 5.3 percent as forecasted in 2016. Therefore, it is my personal view that in the near future, the region shall continue to maintain its pioneering role in the world economic map and continue furthering its contribution towards the mutual growth of the global economy with its huge production, supply and consumption capacity.

Populism challenges for trade agreements and protectionism are growing in the region. How have they affected your management policy?

Everyeconomy shall more often than not apply different policies in terms of economic development, trade and investment at different stages, depending on its own distinctive circumstances. Moreover, governments usually make decisions in each phase in alignment with the aspirations of the people and the current circumstances. Presently, people raise a number of legitimate concerns about whether trade benefits are shared fairly, both within countries as well as between economies and regions. Of course, the task of APEC in general and of each economy in particular, is to prove that cooperation and sharing through international institutions and fair trade agreements is the most beneficial path.

The decisions on the economic and trade development policy of members should be based on the common framework and interests of the world as well as the region in order to minimize negative effects on our common goals and people living in the region. Harmony in the trade policies of each economy in a balanced, transparent and consistent manner canenhance and unify the entire trading system in our region and improve the business environment.

As for Vietnam, we have been, and will continue to maintain our strong commitment, determination and political will in the efforts of reforming mechanisms, policies and strengthening regional and international economic integration. In fact, during 30 years of Vietnam’s renovation, the integration process has helped us achieve a number of positive results in economic, social, security and educational aspects. We shall consistently commit to deeper, broader and more inclusive integration in order to contribute effectively to the establishment of a stable, connected, prosperous, peaceful and growing Asia-Pacific region.

Why do the public and policy makers in the Pacific region need to further support deeper market integration and free trade, apart from helping people who have lagged behind or have been hurt by it?

Like I have mentioned before, the fact that each and every economy in the region has chosen and applied different policies in each stage depends on their own preference and the will of national citizens as well. The most important thing is that we need to coordinate harmoniously so as to establish a common trade system in a well-balanced, equitable manner which also takes into account the benefits of citizens, business community and the common wealth of the society. Asia-Pacific, in its own, has a significantly differentiated gap with regards to level of development, scale of the economy as well as culture and lifestyles. Thus, it is inevitable that we should intensify cooperation, share experiences and best practices, promote technical assistance in order to bridge the development gap as well as share common wealth. That the regional economies prioritize their investment in each other’s market should also be considered as one of the approaches which helps enhance economic growth and establish trade systems as well as strong infrastructure which in turn contributes to the interconnection of economies as per the current motto of APEC.