Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc delivers a speech at the forum (Photo: VNA)

Ulan Bator (VNA) – Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc joined other country leaders at the 15th Asia-Europe Business Forum (AEBF) at the State Palace of Mongolia in the capital Ulan Bator on July 14, asking for high resolve to promote Asia-Europe cooperation and integration.

The forum, themed “Connectivity for Inclusive Growth”, was among the events in the run up to the 11th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Summit, slated for July 15 – 16. It also drew some 600 representatives of leading businesses from the two continents, including the Vietnam Airlines Corporation, the Vietnam Oil and Gas Group and the Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam (BIDV).

As the first leader to give a speech at the AEBF’s closing session, PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc highly valued the forum’s role in enhancing Asia-Europe business partnerships and improving the business climate. He also highlighted enterprises’ significant contributions to the continents’ all-round development and stature.

He described businesses as the growth engine of Asian and European economies, stressing their role, especially that of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), in job creation.

The Vietnamese PM called on the participating leaders to help SMEs to integrate and take part in global value chains.

He asked Asian and European nations to take the lead in sustainable trade and investment cooperation mechanisms within ASEM to cope with such challenges as poverty that is caused by unfair trade, development gaps between countries and climate change, and to ensure the sustainable development of each member country.

He also asked for continued support for partnerships and free trade agreements (FTAs) among countries in Asia and Europe such as the ASEAN Community, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, and EU – ASEAN and India – ASEAN cooperation.

The ASEM member nations are very important partners of Vietnam during its reforms, development and international integration. Nineteen out of 25 strategic and comprehensive partners of Vietnam are ASEM members, who account for 70 percent of foreign investment in and foreign trade with Vietnam. About 80 percent of international tourists to the country are from ASEM nations, PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc noted.

Vietnam has signed and is negotiating 16 FTAs, 14 of which are with ASEM partners, he said, adding that it inked an FTA with the Eurasian Economic Union in June 2015. It is working closely with other ASEAN member states to promote a partnership and cooperation agreement with the EU and an FTA between the two blocs.

Vietnam welcomes cooperation and investment from Asian and European businesses and pledges to continue contributing to ASEM’s comprehensive cooperation, he emphasised.

At the forum, other speakers appreciated ASEM leaders’ attention to creating an optimal business environment for Asian-European companies’ operations. They underscored the demand for enterprises’ increased role in and contribution to bolstering the two continents; and in connectivity amid the unsteady economic recovery that has latent risks around the world.

The ASEM leaders told entrepreneurs to join hands with their Governments in fostering trade and investment, connecting the two continents’ infrastructure, and applying environmentally friendly production technologies to help with sustainable and inclusive growth.

Also on July 14, PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc had separate meetings with S. Dashtsevel, Chairman of the Mongolia – Vietnam Friendship Association, and the Vietnamese Embassy’s staff and representatives of the Vietnamese community in Ulan Bator.-VNA