Leaders from the ten ASEAN member countries and China, Japan and the Republic of Korea gathered at the 16 th ASEAN Plus Three Summit held in Brunei on October 10 to discuss how to effectively strengthen connectivity among the economies.

The leaders spoke highly of the efficiency of cooperation between ASEAN and the three partners over the past time, which is reflected by the 5 percent increase in bilateral trade turnover, reaching 712 billion USD in 2012 in spite of the instable global economy.

They affirmed to continue to prioritise implementing signed cooperation agreements and programmes, especially in economics, trade, investment and finance, as well as carrying out a new roadmap on the Asian Bond Markets Initiative and an initiative on financial bond development.

Priority will also be given to the negotiations of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), they said.

The leaders decided to boost cooperation in security and politics, and in effectively dealing with traditional and non-traditional security challenges, including cooperation to ensure sustainable development, energy and food security and safety, as well as cooperation in health, education, response to natural disasters, environment, human resource, tourism, information and communications and people-to-people exchange.

On this occasion, the leaders approved the amended ASEAN+3 working plan by 2017, agreed to soon implement an ASEAN+3 Partnership on Connectivity, including the consideration of establishing an ASEAN+3 financial fund on regional infrastructure connectivity, and expand the Chiang Mai Initiative.

Addressing the event, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung highly valued the three partners’ commitment to continuing to cooperate with ASEAN, help the bloc implement its core goals of building an ASEAN Community by 2015 and strengthening linkage and connectivity, as well as support its central role in the region.

PM Dung said that the forming regional structure is bringing both new opportunities and challenges to the countries so they should uphold basic principles and implement major cooperation orientations mentioned in the ASEAN Plus Three Leaders’ Joint Statement on the celebration of its 15 years of cooperation, with a view to deepening ASEAN+3 cooperation and laying the material foundation for a future East Asia community.

He called on ASEAN and its partners to focus on consolidating comprehensive and effective cooperation based on existing projects and programmes, intensifying economic linkage, facilitating trade and investment to serve as a basis for a free trade agreement in East Asia.

The Vietnamese Government leader also emphasised the need for the countries to continue strengthening cooperation in stabilising macro finance through the effective implementation of the Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralism.

He also called for the countries to promote cooperation in security and politics to strengthen mutual understanding and trust, ensure peace, security and development in the region, including maritime security and safety.-VNA