Vietnam is to become an important link in the large Asia-Europe economic network comprising 56 partners, including 47 Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) member states, once the 14 free trade agreements (FTA) are finalised and implemented by 2020.

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung made the remarks at a dialogue with entrepreneurs attending the 14th Asia-Europe Business Forum (AEBF) in the Italian city of Milan on October 16.

He said Vietnam is rapidly restructuring its economy and transforming its growth model. In addition, the country’s intensive and comprehensive international integration efforts have helped Vietnam establish itself as an active player in Southeast Asia and a bridge between continental and island ASEAN economies.

These developments form a basis for Vietnam to increase its contributions to Asia-Europe connections and take part in the global value chain in a deeper manner, thus creating new and great opportunities for the two continents’ business communities to invest in Vietnam .

In his speech, PM Nguyen Tan Dung called upon Asian and European enterprises to implement ASEM action programmes in order to facilitate trade and investment, and support developing member states in coping with non-traditional security challenges.

The potential economic links in Asia and the establishment of an ASEAN Community in 2015 will launch a new phase of dynamic development for Southeast Asia , he said.

By 2020, ASEAN will be a pinnacle in the Asian-Pacific economic-trade network, once the FTAs between the bloc and its partners are ratified, an ASEAN framework for a regional comprehensive economic partnership is formed, the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement is signed, and negotiations on a post-2015 FTA between ASEAN and EU are resumed, he said.

The October 15-16 business forum was attended by a number of ASEM leaders, such as President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso, and the Italian, Japanese, and Malaysian Prime Ministers.

They highlighted the need to increase businesses’ roles in and contribution to intercontinental links in the face of slow global economic recovery.

The leaders also told the business circle to support governments in increasing trade and investment flows; ensuring food, water and energy security; developing green technologies; and sustainably managing resources.

The 14 th AEBF, themed “Enhancing business relations to foster economic integration between Europe and Asia”, saw the presence of about 800 representatives of leading Asian and European groups, including Vietnamese companies such as the Vietnam Airlines Corporation, the National Oil and Gas Group, and the Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam.

The forum was part of the ongoing 10 th ASEM Summit currently taking place in Milan from October 16-17.-VNA