Vietnam plays leading role in restoring ASEAN economy after pandemic

09:53 | 25/05/2020 Cooperation

(VEN) - Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh recently spoke with ASEAN Secretary General Lim Jock Hoi about economic recovery plans for the bloc and maintaining regional supply chains in the post Covid-19 period, as well as the next steps to cope with the pandemic. Following the discussion, the minister spoke with the media. 

vietnam plays leading role in restoring asean economy after pandemic
Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh

The ASEAN and Vietnamese economies have undergone numerous changes since the beginning of 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. How has Vietnam played the role of ASEAN Chair in this context?

This is a special year for Vietnam as ASEAN Chair in the context of the complicated development of Covid-19. The pandemic has affected economic activities and business development as well as people’s lives, creating major hindrances to trade and cooperation at different levels. Therefore, apart from other initiatives of the ASEAN Chairmanship 2020 and its agenda, new requirements have arisen. We have had to adjust the plan to adapt.

In the economic aspect, we have identified important objectives. On February 14, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc issued the ASEAN Chair’s statement on increasing cooperation and solidarity among member countries in the fight against Covid-19. ASEAN Economic Ministers met in Da Nang on March 10 and released a statement on the bloc’s economic resilience in response to the outbreak. On April 22, ASEAN and Japanese economic ministers officially approved a joint statement on economic resilience initiatives in response to Covid-19. Leaders of ASEAN and ASEAN+3 (China, Japan and the Republic of Korea) also held a special April summit on Covid-19 response.

The pandemic as well as measures to prevent its spread have adversely affected ASEAN. Consequences include the disruption of supply chains in regional and global trade flows, and resulting industrial stagnation. The business community, especially small and medium enterprises, has been seriously affected.

In the first quarter of 2020, the pandemic’s rapid expansion in China, Japan, Europe and the US, which are major markets of Vietnam and ASEAN, resulted in serious declines in exports. Therefore, Vietnam and other ASEAN member countries need to make greater efforts to increase economic cooperation and continue to ensure food security and promote intraregional cooperation.

vietnam plays leading role in restoring asean economy after pandemic

Could you share the outcome of your recent talk with ASEAN Secretary General Lim Jock Hoi?

We discussed plans to restore the economy and maintain regional supply chains after the Covid-19 pandemic is effectively controlled, following the guidance of ASEAN and ASEAN+3 leaders at their special summit.

Specifically, we agreed to prepare for the development of joint initiatives of ASEAN Economic Ministers, ASEAN and Japan, as well as the recently announced ASEAN joint initiative on Covid-19 response. We also discussed joint initiatives of ASEAN and ASEAN+3 Economic Ministers on economic and trade recovery.

We agreed to work out specific action plans to restore trade, investment, production and business activities based on the actual situation of ASEAN member countries and partners. We also talked about efforts to accelerate preparations for signing the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement in Hanoi this year.

We agreed to persuade ASEAN partners to develop joint initiatives in different fields and different channels and reach a consensus on action plans to prevent overlapping. We are looking towards the restoration and effective development of the economy, a very important step requiring flexibility and determination as well as great efforts by governments.

What should Vietnam do to stabilize and develop the economy in the coming time to overcome the adverse impacts of Covid-19?

One of the messages that we have shared in the process of preparing for the coming June ASEAN Summit is our commitment to support the business community. As part of the Vietnamese business community, small and medium enterprises will be the ones to benefit from support mechanisms and policies. The support will be considered in the framework of international laws and general rules of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in order to adhere to the principles of market competition and ensure a level playing field, helping Vietnamese and other ASEAN companies overcome difficulties and restore operations.

Laws and regulations on business and investment should be reviewed to ensure transparency and facilitate the implementation of market access and investment procedures as well as business linkages.

It is time for ASEAN countries and partners to tighten business linkages in order to restructure supply chains and ensure the adaptability, sustainability and efficiency of ASEAN economies so that they can cope with new risks in the future. Appropriate measures should be taken to promote both domestic sales and exports.

We have reported to the government on measures to promote sales in the domestic market. Demand stimulus programs will be launched to restore production and gradually overcome difficulties to boost exports, especially to major markets.

As a world-leading food exporter, Vietnam has resumed rice exports and removed facemask export restrictions, winning ASEAN’s recognition as a responsible nation.

Recorded by Nguyen Huong