Vietnam expands global integration

10:39 | 06/02/2018 Cooperation

(VEN) - Vietnam has entered a period of deep and comprehensive integration, a continuous process having long-term and profound impacts on all aspects of the country’s social life, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said at the 2017 Vietnam International Economic Integration Forum that took place recently in Hanoi. 

vietnam expands global integration
Photo: Can Dung

A driving force

PM Phuc said the government considers international economic integration a driving force of economic reform and growth, and a constructive government is being built to promote institutional improvements and create a better business environment.

Reviewing Vietnam’s socioeconomic situation under the impact of international economic integration since 2007, Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh said Vietnam had signed and is negotiating 16 bilateral and multilateral free trade agreements (FTAs) with 58 partners. Compared with the period prior to its accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO), Vietnam has promoted its integration into the global economy through more diverse channels. Vietnam and other WTO members concluded negotiations on the Trade Facilitation Agreement in 2013 and brought it into effect in February 2017. In the 2008-2015 period, Vietnam was one of the countries implementing ASEAN commitments most seriously (the country has implemented 85-95 percent of ASEAN commitments).

Notably, Vietnam has joined the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade deal between Pacific Rim countries. Despite the US withdrawal, the 11 remaining members have reached a consensus on the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). This significant result was achieved on the sidelines of the APEC 2017 Summit. Vietnam contributed significantly to the result, Minister Tran Tuan Anh affirmed.

In the 2007-2017 period, Vietnam maintained an average annual export growth rate of 16.6 percent. Although it was lower compared with the 2000-2006 period (19.4 percent), this was an impressive result in the context of the global financial crisis adversely affecting the world economy. In the first 11 months of 2017, businesses, especially companies with foreign direct investment (FDI), took advantage of opportunities presented by FTAs and the recovery of the global economy to achieve an export growth of 21.5 percent compared with the same period in 2016, with value equivalent to fourfold that of 2007.

Vietnam has attracted about 24,000 FDI projects with total capital of more than US$320 billion. World-leading groups, such as Samsung, LG, Toyota, Honda and Canon, have chosen Vietnam to base their manufacturing facilities. The trade openness of the Vietnamese economy has increased with the ratio of trade to gross domestic product (GDP) growing from 157.4 percent in 2008 to approximately 171 percent in 2016.

Turning point year

PM Phuc said the Vietnamese government pursues a consistent policy of promoting Vietnam’s integration into the world, focusing on economic integration. In the context of complicated changes in the regional and global situation, as well as trade protectionism in some countries, Vietnam continues accelerating international integration, while at the same time bringing its internal strength into play.

Vietnam is facing both opportunities and challenges in implementing new-generation FTAs with high-level commitments, as well as in getting ready for the Fourth Industrial Revolution with the explosive growth of new technologies and the digital economy. PM Phuc affirmed the government’s willingness to accompany businesses and listen to their feedback on its policies in order to help them overcome difficulties. For their part, he said, improved knowledge of FTAs will help businesses create suitable development plans to make the most of opportunities afforded by international integration.

According to Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Do Thang Hai, 2018 marks a significant turning point in the implementation of Vietnam’s international economic integration commitments. As an ASEAN member, Vietnam is implementing its commitments to cut 98 percent of tariff lines (tariffs applied to petroleum products will be reduced to zero percent by 2024). In trade with the Republic of Korea, Japan and Australia, Vietnam is reducing taxes for products on the sensitive list. Therefore, along with negotiating new agreements, Vietnam needs to effectively implement FTAs it has signed.

PM Phuc emphasized that comprehensive integration requires effective coordination between state management bodies at a central level, as well as between central and local authorities, in negotiations and enforcement of international commitments. International economic integration also requires state authorities, localities and businesses to have good knowledge of FTAs in order to make the most of opportunities, he added.

The PM appealed for knowledge and experience sharing by specialists, as well as support and cooperation from international organizations and partners, to help Vietnam surmount its limitations and promote sustainable development. He strongly believes that with determination and aspiration, Vietnam will achieve its international integration goals.

“International economic integration has become an important driving force of Vietnam’s socioeconomic development, helping enhance national strength and improve market economic institutions, contributing to improving Vietnam’s position in the international arena,” Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue affirmed.

Nguyen Huong