Vietnam prepares for ASEAN Chairmanship

09:15 | 07/11/2019 Vietnam - Asean

(VEN) - A number of related meetings took place in the framework of the 51st ASEAN Economic Ministers Meeting (AEM 51) in Bangkok from September 3-10. These included the 33rd ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) Council Meeting, the 22nd ASEAN Economic Ministers-ASEAN Investment Area (AEM-AIA) Council Meeting, consultation meetings between ASEAN and partner countries, the seventh Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Ministerial Meeting, the 11th Mekong-Japan Economic Ministerial Meeting, and the 11th Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam (CLMV) Economic Ministers Meeting. 

Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh talked to the media on the sidelines of AEM 51

Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh led a Vietnamese delegation to attend AEM 51 and CLMV 11.

AEM 51 participants discussed ASEAN economic and trade cooperation priorities for 2019 proposed by Thailand - the current Chair of the 10-nation organization. The ministers examined the overall roadmap for implementation of ASEAN commitments, reviewed implementation of priorities for 2019 towards the goal of completing the construction of the ASEAN Economic Community by 2025, focusing on competition policies, consumer protection, intellectual property, e-commerce development, support for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), promoting private sector participation, contributing to building global supply chains, and narrowing the economic development gap among ASEAN member states.

ASEAN economic ministers reviewed the results of the bloc’s cooperation with partners in implementing free trade agreements (FTAs) with India, China, the Republic of Korea, Japan, Australia and New Zealand, as well as plans to upgrade these FTAs in the near future. The ministers also reviewed ASEAN’s cooperation with other partners such as Canada, Russia and the US, and proposed measures to boost ties.

RCEP completion goal

On the sidelines of AEM 51, participants of the seventh RCEP Ministerial Meeting expressed determination to wind up RCEP negotiations by the end of 2019 - a goal set by member state leaders at the second RCEP Summit in November 2018 in Singapore.

On the sidelines of the AEM 51 opening ceremony, Minister Tran Tuan Anh told the media that Vietnam would sign the ASEAN Trade in Services Agreement (ATISA). According to him, in the 24 years since Vietnam joined ASEAN, the region has become one of Vietnam’s leading economic and trading partners. Compared with 1996 when Vietnam began its participation in AFTA, trade between Vietnam and ASEAN has grown more than 9.5 times, from US$5.9 billion in 1996 to nearly US$56.3 billion in 2018 - including US$24.5 billion worth of Vietnamese exports to ASEAN and US$31.8 billion worth of imports from this market.

In addition to the benefits concerning economic growth, ASEAN economic integration has also had a positive impact on Vietnam’s exports, helping it diversify the structure of export products, attract more foreign direct investment (FDI) and increase investment in other ASEAN countries. ASEAN economic integration has created opportunities for businesses to access new technologies and gain advanced management experience, helping them improve worker skills and enhance competitiveness. The implementation of ASEAN agreement commitments has helped Vietnam improve domestic policies, regulations and procedures in order to enhance institutional capacity and create a transparent and open business and investment environment.

Preparations for chairing bloc

Minister Tran Tuan Anh emphasized that Vietnam is preparing for the 2020 ASEAN Chairmanship. The Ministry of Industry and Trade has coordinated with other ministries and sectors to propose priorities for ASEAN 2020 based on the ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint 2025, ASEAN’s economic cooperation in the recent period, ASEAN’s priorities in previous years and their conformity with the interests of Vietnam and other member states.

At the 11th CLMV Economic Ministers Meeting, Minister Tran Tuan Anh highlighted the significant role of CLMV cooperation mechanisms in promoting economic relations and trade between the four countries, as well as their participation in regional value chains, contributing to narrowing the development gap between them and other ASEAN member states.

He urged the four countries to continue joint efforts to increase their transport infrastructure, trade and logistics connectivity, while at the same time assisting each other in trade, investment and tourism promotion activities. Furthermore, he added, the four countries should tighten coordination and increase consultation with each other to raise a common voice in regional and Mekong sub-region cooperation forums and mechanisms in order to protect their interests.

AEM 51 and related meetings offered a chance for the economic ministers of the 10 ASEAN member states and

external partners to discuss and sign agreements on intraregional and external economic, trade and investment

cooperation. The ministers also reached consensus on documents to be submitted to the 35th ASEAN Summit and

related summits in November in Bangkok.

Hai Hung