A dynamic and closely-integrated ASEAN plays a key role and works as an adhesive in the process of building the East Asia Community, a Vietnamese leader said at the WEF’s special session on East Asia Community (EAC).

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung attended the session in Davos , Switzerland , on Jan. 30 together with leaders from Thailand , Indonesia , Singapore , Japan , the Republic of Korea and Australia .

Addressing the session, PM Dung stressed that the year 2010 is a “transitional” year for ASEAN to step up its community-building efforts.

As the ASEAN Chair in 2010 when the group upholds the theme “Toward the ASEAN Community: from vision to action”, Vietnam will work closely with other member countries in practical activities to effectively put into practice the ASEAN Charter, step up the effective implementation of adopted programmes and roadmap tailored for the building of the ASEAN Community, and at the same time further expand and deepen the group’s ties with its partners, PM Dung said.

He affirmed that Vietnam will be responsible for coordinating and boosting
ASEAN+3 cooperation and the East Asia Summit.

PM Dung called on ASEAN’s development partners to continue assisting the group in accelerating its building process, particularly in narrowing the development gap, and promoting internal linkage, so as the ASEAN Community will be established in 2015.

To promote sustainable development in the region and maintain Asia as an area of dynamic growth, it is necessary to enhance financial-monetary cooperation, deploy the Chieng Mai Initiative Multilateralisation Agreement as soon as possible and improve capacity of the regional banking system, the Vietnamese leader underlined.

“East Asian countries should make more active and practical contributions to the reforms of financial-monetary institutions and global governance, including the completion of G-20 mechanism,” Dung said.

At the same time, East Asian countries should push up economic, trade and investment cooperation within the region and implement roadmaps for the establishment of ASEAN free trade areas with China , Japan , the Republic of Korea , India , Australia and New Zealand as scheduled, the Vietnamese PM noted.

“It is the time for East Asian economies to make their resolution to continue stepping up their international and regional economic integration, facilitating trade globalization, fighting trade protectionism, and playing an active role in pushing the Doha negotiation to end soon,” Dung said.

He mentioned the promotion of infrastructural linkage and the facilitation of trade, investment and travel for people in the region as priorities in the process of establishing the East Asia Community.

The Vietnamese PM also called for joint cooperation to counter such challenges as climate change, energy and food insecurity, environmental degradation, natural calamities and diseases.

In combating climate change, he viewed that ASEAN in particular and East Asian countries in general should stand at the forefront in regional and global endeavours.

Dung proposed the establishment of an East Asia Forum on Climate Change to lay out measures for coordinating joint actions in the region and contribute to the formation of a global cooperation framework to deal with this enormous challenge of the humankind.

PM Dung also talked about the necessity to boost cultural, tourist, educational cooperation, academic exchange programmes, and ties between people to create and foster mutual trust and understanding, raise the community awareness and preserve the region’s identity.

He shared with other leaders’ views that today, a peaceful, stable, prosperous and advanced East Asia Community is gradually coming into being in reality.

Since 1997, regional cooperation and integration have been sped up through various mechanisms initiated by ASEAN for the building of the EAC, reaping a series of important fruits in a wide range of fields, the leaders emphasized.

They named economic cooperation and integration as the leading area providing an adhesive and important material precondition for the EAC building process.

The participating leaders laid stress on the need to bolster infrastructural linkage between economies, describing it as an important content of cooperation toward the EAC.

According to the leaders, ASEAN is working on an ASEAN linkage master plan with the aim of connecting all land, rail, sea, and air routes, telecommunication networks and software infrastructure among the group’s members and expanding those connections to East Asia .

They expressed their hopes that within the next two or three decades, East Asia would become a smoothly-linked area with ASEAN playing the cornerstone.

On the sidelines of the WEF, PM Dung on January 30 met with the Duke of York, Prince Andrew, who made several visits to Vietnam .

PM Dung asked Prince Andrew, as a senior representative in trade and international investment of the British Government, to continue supporting Vietnam and encouraging British businesspeople to invest in Vietnam .

He said he hoped the UK trade representative would work to help Vietnamese businesses and their commodities enter the UK market and the EU, thus increasing the two-way trade value between the two countries to 3 billion USD and the UK ’s investment in Vietnam to 3 billion USD in the coming years.

Prince Andrew touched upon ways and means to increase bilateral cooperation in trade and investment and suggested the two countries’ relevant ministries and agencies discuss their cooperation specifically in education, including the setting up of an UK university in Vietnam .

PM Dung received the executives of Unilever group before leaving Davos for home on Jan. 30.