Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh addresses the conference on Vietnam and APEC in Hanoi on November 30 (Photo: VNA)

 

Hanoi,  (VNA) – The important role of APEC and the clear benefits that Vietnam has gained from its 20-year membership in the grouping have been underlined at a conference held in Hanoi on November 30 by the Vietnamese Foreign Ministry.

Addressing the event, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh stressed that joining the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum was a decision of strategic significance to Vietnam, marking an important step forward in implementing a foreign policy of openness, multilateralisation, diversification and economic integration.

The country has reaped remarkable achievements in development and integration during the two decades it has participated in APEC, Minh said.

In the same period, APEC also underwent a profound transition to establish itself as the leading economic cooperation mechanism of the region, leading the way in the liberalisation of trade and investment while promoting the trend of cooperation and multi-level linkages for peace and development, the Deputy PM said.

He attributed the success of APEC to the convergent visions, strong political resolves and untiring efforts of its members, including Vietnam. Vietnam’s imprints in the grouping, particularly as host of APEC Year in 2006 and 2017, have been recognised, Minh said.

At the same time, the Deputy PM noted that new issues have arisen for APEC and Vietnam in the third decade of the 21st century when the world and the Asia-Pacific region are undergoing deep changes.

He pointed to some of the issues, one of which is the fundamental transition the world economy’s foundation in association with the digitalisation process. While enjoying a high growth rate, the world economy also faces many risks, particularly from rising protectionism and trade disputes. The multilateral trade system and the World Trade Organisation are facing the biggest challenges ever since their establishment. Digital technology opens up great potential for productivity and living conditions while also widening the gap of development.

According to Deputy PM Minh, the recent APEC Economic Leaders’ Week in Papua New Guinea has revealed challenges to APEC. The forum is encountering difficulties in maintaining the core values of its cooperation, which advocate the multilateral trade system along with free and open trade and investment.

More than ever, APEC should do more to affirm its indispensable role in the forming multi-polar structure, he said.

He proposed that the conference focus discussion on new goals and contents for APEC cooperation in order to maintain APEC’s core values. All initiatives, projects and cooperative schemes of APEC should put the people at the centre, and aim to bring practical benefits to the people and enterprises.

Minh also underlined that APEC should enhance its adaptability and leadership in global economic governance, stressing that the grouping is capable of working as the motive force in building a new economic structure in the region following the principles of openness, fairness, transparency, the rule of law and harmonisation of interests of all stakeholders in and outside the region.

For Vietnam, the Deputy PM said the Asia-Pacific region and APEC will continue to be among key focuses in Vietnam’s external policy. Vietnam commits itself to continue to cooperate with other members to promote the role of APEC towards the goal of building an Asia-Pacific community of peace, stability, dynamism, innovation and prosperity in the interest of the people and enterprises.

At a discussion on APEC as a driving force of regional and global economic growth and connectivity, delegates agreed that more than ever, APEC should lead the way in boosting economic growth and connectivity in the region and addressing challenges in the 21st century.

Participants also made proposals on how to promote Vietnam’s participation and contributions to APEC and the forming regional economic structure.

In the framework of the conference, there was another discussion on a new vision for a dynamic, connected and prosperous Asia-Pacific community, in which APEC plays an indispensable role.

Ambassador Nguyen Nguyet Nga, representing Vietnam in the APEC Vision Group, said the APEC post-2020 agenda should look to build a resilient, close-knit, inclusive and innovative region.

On the occasion, Deputy PM Minh handed over the Labour Order to 25 units and individuals, in recognition of their contribution to the success of the 2017 APEC Year.-VNA