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APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade meet in Hanoi

Released at: 20:57, 20/05/2017 APEC Viet Nam 2017

APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade meet in Hanoi

Photo: APEC2017.vn

Since its inception in 1989, APEC has always been an important economic driver and growth engine of the Asia-Pacific region and the world, PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc tells gathering.

by Nguyen Quoc

The 23rd Meeting of Ministers Responsible for Trade (MRT 23) of the APEC Forum officially opened in Hanoi on May 20 in the presence of Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, the Vietnam News Agency reports.

As one of the most prominent ministerial meetings within APEC’s framework, MRT 23 saw the attendance of ministers responsible for trade and senior officials from the 21 APEC member economies as well as the Director-General of the WTO, Mr. Roberto Azevedo.

In his opening remarks, PM Phuc said that since its inception in 1989, APEC has always been an important economic driver and growth engine of the Asia-Pacific region and the world. It has a combined population of more than 2.8 billion people, approximately 40 per cent of the world’s total. After nearly three decades, APEC member economies have expanded strongly, accounting for approximately 60 per cent of global GDP and 49 per cent of global trade. Average regional tariffs have fallen from 11 per cent in 1996 to 5.5 per cent in 2016. Income and living standards have improved for a large proportion of the population in the region.

These outcomes are testament to the efforts of the region in trade liberalization, trade and investment facilitation, and shared regional stability, development and prosperity, the Prime Minister noted.

However, he went on, the Asia-Pacific region is witnessing myriad changes in politics, economics, and technology. The fourth industrial revolution as well as the emergence of the digital economy have impacted on the lives of citizens from all walks of life. Never before has the world been so interconnected on such a profound level. Advanced technologies have generated many opportunities but at the same time brought about substantial economic, cultural, and social challenges.  

APEC is aiming for a truly connected Asia-Pacific, he said, in terms of people, infrastructure, technology, and information in order to facilitate economic growth, trade and investment, and comprehensive institutional reform in each and every member economy. Moreover, APEC cooperation programs on enhancing connectivity, developing value chains, connecting supply chains, supporting the business community in general and micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) in particular, among others, have contributed significantly to the development and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region. 

“Characterized by its member economies’ differences in terms of development levels as well as diversity in culture, political institutions, and development policy, APEC should step up economic and technical cooperation and experience and information sharing during the process of policy-making and the implementation of cooperation programs to enhance the effectiveness and distinguish APEC cooperation from that of other organizations and forums in the region and the world,” the PM suggested. “We also need to expand cooperation with other regions to ensure increased connectivity and development for all.”

However, cooperation plans and their goals may still fail to turn into reality when we lack trust, political determination, and coordination to safeguard a peaceful environment, ensure security and safety for investment, and the flow of goods in the region, he added.

He also told those in attendance that Vietnam officially joined APEC in 1998 and since then APEC has played an increasingly important role in the country’s economic development. APEC member economies have contributed about 78 per cent of total FDI inflows to Vietnam, 75 per cent of total trade, and 79 per cent of the total number of tourists to the country. About 80 per cent of Vietnamese students are studying in APEC member economies. Thirteen APEC members have become Vietnam’s strategic and comprehensive partners.

“With its strong determination and effort to deepen reform and international integration, Vietnam has made significant contributions to APEC’s cooperation,” he stressed. “Vietnam hosted APEC in 2006; eleven years ago. And now, we have the great honor of hosting the APEC Year again, with a view to enhancing cooperation with other regional economies for a peaceful, stable, connected and prosperous Asia-Pacific community.”

PM Phuc expressed his hope that MRT 23 will have fruitful and productive discussions to review the implementation of APEC 2017 priorities programs and approve member economies’ initiatives to report to the APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in November 2017, in order to steer the APEC ship towards a brighter and more prosperous future for every citizen in the region.

During the course of the two-day meeting, delegates from member economies are scheduled to focus discussions on the themes of fostering sustainable, inclusive and innovative growth and strengthening MSMEs’ competitiveness and innovation, supporting the multilateral trading system (MTS) and the WTO, deepening regional economic integration, and moving towards an APEC Post-2020 Vision.

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