The ASEAN flag (R) and the flags of the member nations (Photo: AP)

Hanoi (VNA) – Vietnam is ready to contribute and prove itself a prestigious, proactive, dynamic and responsible member of the ASEAN Community, according to Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyen Quoc Dung.

He made the statement in an article in Nhan dan newspaper on the threshold of the 30th ASEAN Summit, slated for April 28-29 in Manila, the Philippines.

Looking back at ASEAN development from a five-member association set up on August 8, 1967 to the ASEAN Community, which was officially established on December 31, 2015, the Deputy FM underlined that ASEAN Community heralded a new stage of development for the bloc.

The formation of the community is hoped to benefit not only the governments of the 10 member countries but also the region’s people. The more than 630 million people in Southeast Asia will live in peace, friendship and solidarity while receiving support to enjoy equal development.

Dung noted that the member economies, with combined GDP of 2.48 trillion USD, can make use of the common market to liberalise trade, investment, services and capital sources and to connect with economies inside and outside of the region.

The abundant workforce, whose educational qualifications and vocational skills are mutually recognised by the ASEAN members, will have more opportunities to seek better jobs in the region.

Under the ASEAN Community, human rights and the rights to basic freedoms are protected. Each country’s traditional culture is preserved and has its values shared in the community.

However, the deputy minister also pointed out the complex and fluid world situation over the past year, noting sluggish economic growth, terrorism and conflicts, increasing populism and protectionism, and fierce competition among big countries.

Despite this, with efforts of the member countries, ASEAN has reaped encouraging outcomes in the first year of the Community and the implementation of the ASEAN Community Vision 2025, said Dung.

The diplomat highlighted that security in the region and each member nations is stable, with 218 of the 290 action lines under the ASEAN Politico-Security Community Blueprint already implemented.

The grouping’s overall economy continued to post good GDP growth in 2016, 4.5 percent – a rate expected to hit 4.6 percent in 2017. The association also specified 118 prioritised action lines to carry out the ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint 2025. Efforts have been made to implement 109 action lines in the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community 2025.

Last year, ASEAN approved the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity and the Initiative for ASEAN Integration Work Plan III.

Activities at both regional and national scales were organised to prepare for the bloc’s 50th founding anniversary this year. The association has also reformed and improved the effectiveness of ASEAN agencies and the ASEAN Secretariat.

In his article, Dung wrote that ASEAN has affirmed its centrality in dialogue and cooperation for regional peace and stability by promoting its solidarity and central role in the evolving regional architecture and in responding to emerging challenges.

Partners of ASEAN have also affirmed that they treasure relations with the bloc and support it in building the ASEAN Community and playing a central role in the region. They have also pledged to work with ASEAN to devise measures to carry out common action plans.

The formation of the ASEAN Community was important to Vietnam, the deputy minister wrote, noting that ASEAN remains a pillar and a strategic priority in the country’s foreign policy.

What ASEAN has achieved over the past year can be partly attributed to the substantial contribution of Vietnam, as seen in almost all cooperation activities of the bloc, especially in the implementation of the ASEAN Community Vision 2025, Dung noted, adding that ministries and sectors in Vietnam have mapped out plans to carry out the vision and the blueprints of the three pillars in the Community.

On the East Sea issue, Vietnam has coordinated with other members to create consensus within ASEAN and between ASEAN and partners so as to keep peace, stability, security, and safety of navigation and overflight in the East Sea.

The country has also promoted the inclusion of the East Sea issue in documents of ASEAN meetings and forums, stressing the full and effective implementation of the Declaration of the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea and the early formulation of a Code of Conduct in the waters, according to Deputy Minister Dung.

The initial outcomes in ASEAN Community building are encouraging and have provided prerequisites for more development.

2017 is the second year of the ASEAN Community. The Philippines, which holds this year’s ASEAN chairmanship, set the theme as “Partnering for Change, Engaging the World” with six cooperation priorities in line with the Community’s development orientations and master plans.

Dung said to realise the ASEAN Community Vision 2025, Vietnam will keep enhancing result-oriented cooperation to benefit people in each member country. It will carry out and combine the vision’s master plans with action programmes of its ministries, sectors and localities.

More communication activities will be conducted to raise public awareness of the ASEAN Community, as well as to maintain the solidarity, consensus and principles which have made up the identity and success of ASEAN, he wrote in the article.-VNA