Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue speaks at the event (Source: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – The second plenary session of the 26th Annual Meeting of the Asia – Pacific Parliamentary Forum (APPF-26) took place on January 19 afternoon to discuss economic and trade matters.

In his keynote remarks, Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue said in over half a century, the Asia - Pacific has thrived to become a driver of global economic growth, thanks in part to extensive economic linkages and making the most of the potential, advantages, and the importance of the agricultural sector and the network of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

He noted that efforts to increase regional trade and economic integration have produce important result, including the signing and implementation of many bilateral and multilateral FTAs.

“Vietnam has chosen international economic integration as the centre point of its efforts to actively integrate economically,” the Deputy PM said, adding that “the success of APEC 2017 in Vietnam is also a vivid manifestation of the vitality of cooperation and regional economic integration.”

Highlighting challenges posed by rising protectionism and differing views on integration and globalisation, Hue pointed to new cooperation areas such as value chains, integration, competition, e-commerce, saying they would bring about greater benefits from regional economic integration.

“We should take concrete actions to improve connectivity, similar to APEC’s and ASEAN’s initiative, focusing on three priorities: infrastructure, human, and institutions. Parliaments play an important part in this process as national legislative bodies,” the official stated.

Vietnam's Deputy Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son delivered a report on the results of the 2017 APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting, which took place in the central city of Da Nang in November last year.

Talking about the relationship between the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and APPF, Canadian Senator Yuen Paul Woo said to boost connectivity between the two forums, there is a need to develop a secretariat mechanism and each nation ought to put into actions agendas adopted at these forums.

He said countries should learn from Vietnam’ example of closely organising the two events so that their relevant points could be integrated together.    

At the session, participants focused on economic cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region. Their debate provided a parliamentary perspective on and contribution to efforts in the region targeting the expansion of trade, investment, peace, stability, prosperity and sustainable development, which revolves around the agenda of APEC Summit 2017.

They talked about the role of parliaments in promoting economic links intensively and comprehensively, food security and sustainable agricultural development, and support for MSMEs in the digital age.

Nurhayati Ali Assegaf, Chairperson of Indonesia’s Committee of Inter-Parliamentary Cooperation, suggested parliaments support the promotion of people-to-people diplomacy, opening of direct air routes, and simplification of visa procedures.  

She said gender equality promotion could have positive impact on GDP growth.

She suggested APPF members make efforts to improve the role of MSMEs and other economic sectors for extensive and equal economic integration.

Masazumi Gotoda, member of House of Representatives at the Nation Diet of Japan, said parliaments should play their inspection role to ensure the effective implementation of policies for economic growth related to currency and economic cooperation, among others.

He also suggested the building of a high-quality workforce for the digital age, and women empowerment, noting that fair competition is necessary for free trade.

Australian Senator John Williams said food security should concern the quality of soil and water, which can foster better nutrient sources that help people become healthier.

He stressed the importance of sharing knowledge among nations for common benefits and prosperity.

The APPF-26 will mull over regional cooperation in Asia-Pacific, and the future of APPF in its last two plenary sessions on January 20.

Founded in Tokyo, Japan in 1993, the APPF now gathers 27 members, namely Australia, Cambodia, Canada, China, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Fiji, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, the Marshall Islands, Mexico, Micronesia, Mongolia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, the Republic of Korea, Russia, Singapore, Thailand, the US and Vietnam.

It is a mechanism that enables parliamentarians to discuss issues of common concern, and to deepen their understanding of the region and the interests and experience of its diverse members. The forum’s proceedings address political, security, economic, social and cultural issues, thus furthering regional cooperation and building relations between and among parliamentarians from the Asia-Pacific region.-VNA