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Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh told the conference that on the eve of the third decade of the 21st century, the Asia-Pacific region and the world are in a period of transition with fundamental shifts that have given rise to new issues and challenges to the APEC.
The conference on Vietnam's 20 years of APEC membership took place this morning
“In a hyper-connected world, we face unprecedented and intertwined opportunities and challenges. The world economy is undergoing profound digital technology-based transformations. Sustainability, inclusion and innovation are top priorities,” he stated.
The global economy is growing strongly, but some risks are beginning to materialize, such as the rise of protectionism, trade frictions, and financial instability. The multilateral system now faces a great number of challenges. The World Trade Organisation (WTO) is under the biggest threat since its establishment. Digital innovations have created hope for higher productivity and people’s living standards, but also increased development gaps. Global challenges are growing with greater complexity.
With its strategic geo-economic and geopolitical position, the Asia-Pacific continues to be a key driver of global growth and economic integration. The region’s share of the global GDP is expected to rise to almost 70 per cent by 2050. Ten out of the 20 largest economies are coming from the Asia-Pacific.
The growing geo-economic and geopolitical shifts are shaping a new regional architecture. Against this backdrop, the APEC has been and continues to be an important factor in regional integration in the 21st century.
However, the path ahead is not without difficulties. The outcomes of the APEC Economic Leaders’ Week in Papua New Guinea have revealed certain challenges. We have been presented with difficulties in upholding the core values of the APEC, in supporting the multilateral trading system, and in promoting free and open trade and investment. More than ever, the APEC needs to rise to the challenge to reassert its indispensable role in the evolving multi-polar world.
In this context, Vietnam has also suggested several solutions to further boost APEC co-operation in the future.
“First, we need to define the priorities and new elements for co-operation to maintain APEC’s core values. While undertaking the three pillars of co-operation, we should give our special attention to promoting sustainability, inclusion, and innovation to give fresh impetus to growth,” Deputy Prime Minister Minh stated.
The digital economy should be put higher on the agenda, with a focus on digital connectivity, digital trade, financial technology, and connecting centres of innovation and startups. The APEC’s technical economic co-operation should focus on assisting developing economies to enhance economic integration and strengthen adaptability and risk management.
“Second, all co-operation initiatives, projects, and mechanisms should be people-centred so as to bring tangible benefits to our people and businesses. The APEC needs to build strong, inclusive communities with due attention given to the most vulnerable groups. We also need to enable micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) as well as women-led enterprises to increase their participation in the higher levels of global value chains.”
“Third, it is imperative for the APEC to enhance its adaptability and leadership in the global economic governance. The APEC has the ability and a responsibility to champion efforts to build an inclusive, equitable, transparent, and rule-based regional architecture, which is harmonious with the interests of all stakeholders in the region and beyond,” DPM Minh stated.
To this end, the APEC needs to promote multilateral co-operation and plays a leading role in strengthening the multilateral trading system with the WTO at its core. The APEC must champion in co-ordinating multi-layered regional economic arrangements toward the establishment of the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP). More efforts should also be made on effectively addressing urgent economic issues and emerging challenges.
“Last but not least, we also need to put in place recommendations on how the ASEAN can make the most robust and meaningful contributions to the APEC. I strongly encourage Vietnamese ministries and agencies to come up with new initiatives and ideas to play a central role in implementing the APEC’s long-term agendas and strategies,” DPM Minh added.
Recently, Vietnam has been redoubling efforts to perform its commitments to the WTO as well as those made in numerous international economic arrangements. The country will assume ASEAN Chairmanship in 2020 and is currently running for non-permanent membership in the UN Security Council for the 2020-2021 term.
“These showcases our strong determination to undertaking comprehensive reform, extensive international integration, and proactive multilateral diplomacy,” DPM Minh stated.