High-level symposium talks intra-ASEAN trade hinh anh 1Delegates to the high-level symposium pose for a group photo (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA)
– Delegates at a high-level symposium in Hanoi on January 10 shared their views on the significance of enhancing intra-ASEAN trade and investment for a cohesive and responsive grouping.

Vu Ho, head of the ASEAN Department under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the unprecedented transformations of the global economy and technological advances have brought about huge potential for peace and sustainable development, as well as economic integration.

However, countries are also facing great challenges regarding competitions and anti-globalisation movement, he pointed out.

Therefore, the key question for ten-member grouping is how to maintain its strength and cohesiveness, and harmoniously handle impacts of strategic competitions, Ho said, stressing the ASEAN’s potential for stronger intra-bloc economy and investment has yet to be fully tapped.

At the 34th and 35th ASEAN Summits, the bloc’s leaders reiterated commitments to bolstering intra-bloc investment. In 2017, ASEAN member countries set the target of doubling the intra-bloc capital flows by 2025 and better preparing for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Ho said the enhancement of the regional economy and investment would help with the realization of the ASEAN’s priorities in the time ahead.

He noted that there remain many barriers to intra-bloc investment, including those regarding institutions, policies and logistics, that need to be addressed, adding that the symposium is expected to gather ideas and recommendations from experts and policy makers to promote regional economic integration.

Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Quoc Khanh said the ASEAN has made marked strides in integration since the establishment of the ASEAN Free Trade Area in 1992, with intra-bloc trade climbing from 89 billion USD to 200 billion USD in 2019.

Trade between Vietnam and the bloc also increased from 4 billion USD to 18 billion USD during the period.

With a population of 600 million, the ASEAN has become the world’s sixth largest economy and a typical example of economic integration, with its economic growth rate higher than the global average and the pace is expected to continue in the coming years.

The official suggested the ASEAN strengthen its unity and maintain its  cohesiveness to overcome challenges in the context of rising protectionism.

Businesses hope for transparency in intra-ASEAN investment, he said, calling on regional countries to work together to identify and remove barriers facing investors./.