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ASEAN aiming at prosperous life

(VLR) Over 5 decades of developments, ASEAN has become an active economic community with the population of over 630 million people and with the total GDP of over USD 3,100 bn (2019) - the fifth largest economy in the world. The achievement came from contributions for business community- from regional large enterprises to medium- sized, small-sized and super small-sized enterprises; from enterprises owned by young businesspeople, start-up businesses and woman-owned business as well.


In 2020, Vietnam took over the position of the Rotating Chairman of ASEAN in a very difficult situation. The widespread of the pandemic of COVID-19 has been the most serious challenges to both the world’s people and nations’ economies: weakening the world’s economy, bringing down supply chains, hampering people’s travelling and even forcing enterprises to stop their operation. ASEAN has been unable to exclude from these bad impacts.

Besides, some ASEAN member countries had to face natural disasters: typhoons, floods and serious landslide causing great number of injuries and casualties, damaging works of infrastructures and causing serious impacts to ASEAN enterprises.

The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) was just signed on November 15, 2020 in Hanoi within the framework of the 37th ASEAN Summit. It is the world’s largest agreement in size between ASEAN and 5 partner countries, including China, Japan, Korea, Australia and New Zealand..

As ASEAN Chair this year, Vietnam has been working closely with other members to promote the group’s readiness to respond and mitigate the outbreak’s impacts, reflecting a truly “cohesive and responsive” ASEAN: together with regional countries and partners controlling the outbreak of COVID-19; deploying the Plan of General Recovery; facilitating travelling of experts, managers and investors to ensure supply chains’ operations; recovering productions; creating job opportunites and supporting enterprises in difficulties...

According to October, 2020 forecast by IMF, Vietnam is an economy with positive growth of 2%- 3% in 2020.

In the East Asia Summit on November 14, 2020, ASEAN countries highly appreciated Vietnam in the position of the Chairman of ASEAN 2020. And the 15th EAS was successful in coordination efforts to deal with the pandemic of COVID-19 and in cooperation for peace and security. The countries also higly appreciated ASEAN ideas on cooperation against COVID-19- especially ASEAN’s COVID-19 Response Fund and the Regional Reserve of Medical Supplies. These are practical cooperation results that improves common abilities to deal with medical emergency situation and pandemics in the future. PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc affirmed: “Difficulties cannot stop us; challenges cannot bring us down; the pandemic of COVID-19 cannot halt the progress of building the ASEAN community. We are happy to see cooperation on the three pillars has actively deployed and on schedule through midterm review of the Plan of ASEAN Community Vision 2025”.


In his opening speech at the 37th ASEAN Summit held in Hanoi from November 12-15, 2020, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc continued to call on ASEAN to concentrate resources and efforts at the highest level to push back the risk of COVID-19, to have vaccines for disease prevention and efficient medical treatments, to improve the capacity of preventive medicine for situations of emergency.

Besides there should be push up on solutions to support enterprises to recover their business and production, to improve job opportunities for people. The ASEAN Communitity Councils should urgently carry out ASEAN Overall Restoration Framework and the Implementation Plan immediately after the Conference.

Difficulties cannot stop us; challenges cannot bring us down; the pandemic of COVID-19 cannot halt the progress of building the ASEAN community. We are happy to see cooperation on the three pillars has actively deployed and on schedule through midterm review of the Plan of ASEAN Community Vision 2025.

PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc

The PM also called on enterprises to continue to show their bravery, self-reliance, to stand firm to overcome difficulties and challenges, to recover and to develop. He also suggested the business community to focus on improving the application of digital technology, smart technology in business and production, aiming at clean-green values and sustainable developments for inclusive benefits of people. He also asked the Ease Asian Business Council to continue its role as a bridge between businesses and the East Asia’s governments for timely recommendations and contributions to governments to improve institutons and policies on regional economic integration, contributing to the Master Plan for ASEAN Recovery.

Also in the framework of the 37th ASEAN Summit, on November 15th, 2020, the signing ceremony of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) between the economic ministers of the 10 ASEAN member countries and 5 partner countries took place. This is a great achievement- ASEAN countries- together with the partner countries- laid down the foundation for a new period of comprehensive, long-term cooperation, which is expected to benefit all countries in the region.

The new cooperation framework of the RCEP Agreement will contribute to accelerating the process of building the ASEAN Economic Community 2025. From there, ASEAN will become a dynamic, strong and cooperative partner for mutual prosperity.

When implemented, the RCEP will create a large market with 2.2 billion consumers- about 30% of the world’s population, with a GDP of approximately 26,200 billion USD- about 30% of global GDP and will become the largest free trade region in the world. With commitments to open markets in goods, services and investment, and with harmonization of rules of origin among all participants, as well as strengthening trade facilitation measures, the agreement will provide opportunities to develop new supply chains in the region.

In addition to specific provisions on trade in goods, trade in services, and investment, the RCEP also includes chapters on intellectual property, e-commerce, competition, small and medium enterprises, and economic cooperation, technology and government procurement. The RCEP will help establish long-term stable export markets for ASEAN countries in the situation that there are uncertain and risky changes to global supply chains. In addition, the Agreement will create a legally binding framework on regional policies of trade, investment, intellectual property, e-commerce, dispute settlement..., creating a fair trade environment in the region.

To Vietnam, RCEP helps enterprises not only access large consuming markets- with GDP doubled that of CPTPP but also access sources of materials, serving chains of productions with current export advantages. Vietnam can import chips from Japan and Korea; import textile materials from China, then makes products from them domestically and export them to other countries, satisfying the rules on origin within the bloc and taking advantages of tariff preferences.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc affirmed that Vietnam is striving to become a destination for many regional and global business investors for mutual cooperation and success. Vietnam commits to cooperate with ASEAN member countries and ASEAN’s partner countries to have practical supporting programs for businesses in the region, especially in the areas of digital transformation, environment, society and governance (ESG); technology and employment futures in the region; for sustainable and inclusive development.

Working together to achieve a common goal of putting people and businesses at the heart of development. At the same time, taking advantage of new opportunities due to the movements of supply chains, global investment flows towards the ASEAN region. The Prime Minister emphasized “Solidarity and resilience, ASEAN will steadily overcome challenges, aim for a prosperous and prosperous life for more than 600 million people, effectively contributing to peace, stability and development in the region and around the world ”.

Tran Trinh Lam

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