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Keynote address by Deputy PM, FM Minh at conference reviewing 20-year participation in APEC

VGP - The following is the full keynote address by Deputy PM, FM Pham Binh Minh at the conference on "Viet Nam and APEC: A Journey of 20 years and the Path Ahead" that took place in Ha Noi on November 30.

12/03/2018 13:50

Distinguished delegates,

Ladies and gentlemen,

Let me warmly welcome you all to our Conference on “Viet Nam and APEC: A Journey of 20 Years and the Path Ahead”.

Exactly 20 years ago, in November 1998, Viet Nam was honored to become a member of APEC.

This strategic decision is a major step taken by our country to implement the foreign policy of openness, multi-lateralization and diversification of our international relations and economic integration, giving fresh impetus to Viet Nam’s reform and international integration.

During 20 years of APEC membership, Viet Nam has also made great strides on the path of development and integration.

- Viet Nam has transformed itself from one of the poorest in the world into a lower middle-income country, with per capita income increasing 7 times from US$350 to nearly US$2,400.

- Viet Nam today is an active and responsible member of regional and global cooperation mechanisms and an important link in key economic integration networks.

- Many APEC members have become Viet Nam’s top trade and investment partners. 13 out of 16 free trade agreements (FTAs) signed or under negotiation by Viet Nam are with 17 APEC members.

- APEC members make up 85% of our international tourists and are home to 80% of Vietnamese students abroad. This has helped bring Viet Nam closer to the world and the world closer to Viet Nam.

- APEC also provides a platform for Viet Nam to take part in bigger and high-level playgrounds such as the World Trade Organization and FTAs, including new generation FTAs.

- Ministries, agencies, localities and businesses have more opportunities to learn, improve their capabilities, and raise awareness on integration.

Viet Nam treasures the strong support and effective cooperation extended by APEC members and all of you who are here today. You have always stood side by side with us over the past two decades.

The past 20 years have also marked a period of APEc’s profound transformation in its 30 years of development. APEC has grown beyond our initial expectations and proved itself to be the premier regional mechanism for economic cooperation. It has been a pioneer in advancing trade and investment liberation and bolstering the vibrant trend of multi-layered economic cooperation and integration.

APEC members have stood together and managed to move forward during difficulties, reaffirming the vitality and strength of the Asia-Pacific – a region of peace and stability, and a driver of global growth and economic integration.

APEC’s achievements have been attributable to many factors. The most important one is the vision, strong determination and untiring efforts made by its member economies, including Viet Nam.

Looking back, Viet Nam is proud to have been side by side with other members in making active contributions to the APEC family.

Viet Nam has left its marks on the development of APEC, especially as the host of APEC 2006 and APEC 2017.

- This is for the first time that APEC Leaders identified a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific as a long-term prospect in November 2006, laying a foundation for a strategic vision of regional integration.

- This is the commitment made by our Leaders in Da Nang last year to foster free and open trade and investment and support the multilateral trading system. It helps sustain the momentum of cooperation and integration, and uphold the core values of APEC.

- This is APEC action agenda on advancing economic, financial and social inclusion, APEC framework on human resources development in the digital age, to name a few.

- Especially, this is the decision to establish the APEC Vision Group to launch a process of building the post-2020 Vision.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

On the eve of the third decade of the 21st century, our region and the world are in a period of transition with fundamental shifts that have given rise to new issues and challenges to APEC and Viet Nam.

In a hyper-connected world, we have faced with unprecedented and intertwined opportunities and challenges.

The world economy is undergoing profound digital technology-based transformations. Sustainability, inclusion and innovation are top priorities.

The global economy is growing strongly, but some risks are beginning to materialize. The rise of protectionism, trade friction, and financial instability…

The multilateral system is now facing many challenges. The World Trade Organization is under the biggest threat ever since its establishment.

Digital innovations have created hope for higher productivity and people’s living standards, but also increased development gap. Global challenges are growing with greater complexity.

With its strategically geo-economic and geopolitical position, the Asia-Pacific continues to be a key driver of global growth and economic integration.

The region’s share of the global GDP is expected to rise to almost 70% by 2050.  10 out of 20 largest economies are coming from the Asia-Pacific. The growing geo-economic and geo-political shifts are shaping a new regional architecture.

Against this backdrop, APEC has been and continues to be an important factor in the process of regional integration in the Asia-Pacific in the 21st century. However, the path ahead is not without difficulties.

The outcomes of the APEC Economic Leaders’ Week in Papua New Guinea have revealed certain challenges. We have been presented with difficulties in upholding the core values of APEC of supporting multilateral trading system, and promoting free and open trade and investment.

More than ever, APEC needs to rise to the challenge to reassert its indispensible role in the evolving multi-polar world. In that spirit, I do hope that our deliberations today will focus on the following issues:

First, we need to define priorities and new elements for cooperation to maintain APEC’s core values. While undertaking the three pillars of cooperation, we should give our special attention to promoting sustainability, inclusion and innovation to give fresh impetus to growth.

Digital economy should be put high on the agenda, with a focus on digital connectivity, digital trade, financial technology, and connecting centers of innovation and start-ups.

APEC’s technical economic cooperation should focus on assisting developing economies with enhanced effectiveness of economic integration and strengthened adaptability and risks management.

Second, all cooperation initiatives, projects and mechanisms should be people- centered so as to brigh tangible benefits to our people and businesses. APEC needs to build strong, inclusive communities with due attention given to the most vulnerable groups. We also need to enable MSMEs, women-led enterprises to increase their participation in the higher global value chains.

Third, it is imperative for APEC to enhance its adaptability and leadership role in the global economic governance. APEC has full ability and responsibility to champion in efforts to build an inclusive, equitable, transparent, and rule-based regional architecture, which is harmonious with the interests of all stakeholders in the region and beyond.

To this end, APEC needs to promote multilateral cooperation and plays a leading role in strengthening the multilateral trading system with the World Trade Organization at its core.

APEC must champion in coordinating multi-layered regional economic arrangements toward the establishment of the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP).

More efforts should be made on effectively addressing urgent economic issues and emerging challenges.

Last but not least, we also need to put in place recommendations on how best ASEAN and Viet Nam can make robust and meaningful contributions to APEC. In this connection, I strongly encourage Vietnamese ministries and agencies to come up with new initiatives and ideas to play a central role in implementing APEC long-term agendas and strategies.

Viet Nam needs to continue to be proactive in building and realizing the new APEC vision beyond 2020, thus contributing to shaping a new regional architecture.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The next 15 to 20 years will be crucial for Viet Nam’s future development and international integration. We have doubled our efforts to complete our commitments to the World Trade Organization, realize those in numerous international economic arrangements. Viet Nam will assume ASEAN Chairmanship in 2020, and is currently running for the United Nations Security Council non-permanent membership for the 2020-2021 term.

These showcase our strong determination to undertaking comprehensive reform, extensive international integration and proactive multilateral diplomacy.

These assessment of Viet Nam’s participation in APEC today, together with the reviews of our participation in the United Nations in the past four decades, in the World Trade Organization for 12 years, in ASEAN and ASEM for more than 20 years… have laid important foundation for our efforts for a more proactive multilateral diplomacy in the years to come.

In the new strategic period of development, the Asia-Pacific region, including APEC, has always been a cornerstone of our foreign policy.

In this endeavor, Viet Nam is committed to working closely with APEC members to enhance APEC’s role to realize a peaceful, stable, dynamic, inclusive, inter-connected and prosperous Asia-Pacific community, for the benefits of the people and businesses.

I wish you a fruitful conference.

Thank you all./.