Vietnam presents priorities for ASEAN 2020 Chairmanship

10:31 | 27/12/2019 Vietnam - Asean

(VEN) - Vietnam has set out three priorities for its 2020 chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), namely promoting intra-regional economic linkages, strengthening the partnership for peace and sustainable development, and enhancing the organization’s adaptive capacity and performance. Luong Hoang Thai, Director of the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Multilateral Trade Policy Department spoke with Vietnam Economic News’ Phuong Huong Long on the sidelines of the annual meeting of senior economic officials from ASEAN member countries, known as the SEOM Retreat, which took place on November 28 and 29 in the northeastern province of Quang Ninh’s Ha Long City. 

vietnam presents priorities for asean 2020 chairmanship
Luong Hoang Thai, Director of the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s Multilateral Trade Policy Department

Could you tell us about the SEOM Retreat?

Member countries hold the SEOM Retreat at the end of each year in the country slated to assume the organization’s leadership the following year, with the host presenting its priority initiatives. Vietnam presented its ASEAN roadmap for 2020 and the necessary mechanisms to accelerate its implementation, and gathered the input of other participants on its ideas.

This SEOM Retreat played an important role in Vietnam’s ASEAN Chairmanship year, providing direction for economic cooperation so that member states can make plans and set specific priority targets.

Vietnam has developed 15 draft priority initiatives for promoting ASEAN economic cooperation in 2020, which were developed by ministries and sectors and closely guided by the National Steering Committee.

What are the priorities for the economic pillar in 2020 and how will they be implemented?

Vietnam’s initiatives for the economic pillar include promotion of ASEAN’s strength through regional connectivity, promotion of ASEAN’s important role in connecting member countries and other economies in the world, and improvement of ASEAN’s operational efficiency. Under the vision it has set out, ASEAN must operate on the basis of high diversity, cost efficiency, and address different issues without having to hold too many meetings.

These priorities will be discussed first by officials and working groups, and then gradually be addressed at higher levels. We will have ministerial-level conferences not only within ASEAN but also with ASEAN’s partner countries, and promote activities to conclude the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), in which ASEAN plays a leading role.

vietnam presents priorities for asean 2020 chairmanship
The SEOM Retreat

What role does Vietnam play in promoting signature of the RCEP?

At the third RCEP summit on November 4 in Thailand, leaders of the 16 countries participating in the negotiations agreed, in principle, on the texts of the agreement’s 20 chapters and on ending negotiations and promoting the RCEP signing in 2020 in Vietnam. This is a huge goal because RCEP is one of the largest free trade agreements currently under negotiation in the world. Of course, given the agreement’s scope, the negotiations are very complicated.

However, as ASEAN chair in 2020, Vietnam will try its best to implement the instructions given by leaders of ASEAN countries to display the unity, solidarity and role of ASEAN in regional cooperation. Many difficult problems are expected to emerge during that process, and we will coordinate with ASEAN and partner countries to solve them.

As ASEAN’s 2020 chair, Vietnam strongly hopes that this agreement will be signed in 2020 and it will do all it can to motivate parties to complete other tasks, such as reviewing their laws and remaining technical issues.

Prior to the third RCEP summit, the Ministry of Industry and Trade, as the chair of negotiations, met with a number of important countries to discuss ways to promote this agreement.

In addition to verifying the economic priorities proposed by Vietnam, the SEOM Retreat provided an opportunity to discuss the priorities of specialized working groups, the agenda for 2020, activities by economic representatives at the Vietnam Permanent Representative Mission to ASEAN, and East Timor’s accession to ASEAN.

Phuong Huong Long