08:48 | 14/09/2017 Cooperation
(VEN) - Growth cannot be sustainable unless it is economically, financially and socially inclusive, officials of the 21-nation Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum agreed at a symposium in Ho Chi Minh City on August 28.
In his opening remarks at the “APEC Symposium on Promoting Economic, Financial and Social Inclusion”, Permanent Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam Bui Thanh Son, said economic inclusion provides access to opportunities for all members of society, enabling them to meaningfully participate in the economic life as employers, entrepreneurs, consumers and citizens.
Financial inclusion provides access to useful and affordable financial products and services that meet their needs, such as transactions, payments, savings, credit and insurance, which are delivered in a responsible and sustainable way.
Furthermore, social inclusion is the process of improving the terms for individuals and groups to partake in society. Social inclusion aims to empower all members of society to take advantage of burgeoning global opportunities and enhance equity, he added.
According to the Deputy Minister, equal attention should be paid to the three dimensions of economic, financial and social inclusion. While APEC has made efforts to promote inclusion, there remain significant gaps between what APEC has accomplished and the expectations of the people, he said.
To strengthen APEC’s role as a driving force of global growth, all segments of society will need to be brought on board, he stressed.
Inclusion is really at the heart of all economies, developed and developing, he said, adding that Vietnam is no exception.
Son further explained that in over 30 years of “Doi moi” (reform), the country has brought about significant socio-economic progress. Yet Vietnam is still grappling with increasing income inequality. Therefore, Vietnam is resolved to build a facilitating and action-oriented government that works for the people and businesses.
Addressing the event, Kamal Malhotra, Resident Coordinator of the UN in Vietnam, said that while many APEC member economies have a well-earned reputation for economic transformation and have achieved substantial progress in poverty reduction and economic growth, the challenges ahead in sustaining the progress are significant and should not be underestimated.
Inclusion, he added, is at the core of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that seeks to leave no one behind. To promote its sustainable development, APEC needs to generate high-productivity jobs, increase investment in vocational training and higher education, support small-size businesses, promote gender equality and women’s participation in the economy, and enable all people in society to contribute to and benefit from development.
Gap between rich and poor
Ousmane Dione, the World Bank (WB)’s Country Director for Vietnam, indicated five decisive factors for inclusive development: (1) ensuring that economic growth goes along with salary increases and employment generation; (2) attaching sustainable growth and investment to humans; (3) ensuring financial inclusion; (4) applying appropriate policies to reduce economic inequality in order to prevent social elimination; and (5) increasing policy coordination at a global level and between multilateral organizations in promoting inclusive growth. In his opinion, a more comprehensive approach and overall measures need to be taken to ensure that people are at the core of development policies, especially in the current context of numerous socioeconomic changes.
According to Son, the chair of SOM 3, while globalization and free trade have considerably boosted global trade and growth, contributing to reducing hunger and poverty, the gap between rich and poor keeps expanding. While emerging trends, such as the Fourth Industrial Revolution, or Industry 4.0, and digital technology, have opened new development opportunities, the digital divide remains a big concern, and many people still lag behind in the competition for employment and business opportunities in the digital era. Many other factors, such as population ageing, the exhaustion of natural resources, and natural disasters, are also hindering inclusive development.
“Inclusive development has been promoted at different levels in APEC member economies, as well as all over the world. Therefore, we can learn from each other’s experience and discuss measures to promote effective inclusive development, which is a priority in all economies, either developed or developing,” Deputy Minister Son emphasized.
Economy, finance and society are three pillars of inclusive development. The efficiency of one pillar will decline if the other two fail to catch up with it, whereas the enhanced efficiency of one pillar will have a positive impact on the other two. Therefore, APEC should take a strategic and comprehensive approach to inclusion, Son added.
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Bui Thanh Son, the chair of APEC SOM 3:
A comprehensive APEC action plan based on economic, financial and social pillars is necessary to enhance institutional capacity and create a favorable legal framework for promoting inclusive development.
Thao Duong Long