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Vietnam assumes ASEAN Chairmanship

Released at: 14:29, 05/11/2019

Vietnam assumes ASEAN Chairmanship

Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha (L) hands the chairmanship hammer to PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc (Photo: VNA)

ASEAN Chairmanship handed over from Thailand to Vietnam on November 4.

by Long Van

At a ceremony held in Bangkok on the evening of November 4 to wrap up the 35th ASEAN Summit and related summits, the host country Thailand handed over the ASEAN Chairmanship for 2020 to Vietnam.

Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha handed the Chairmanship hammer to Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc.

Prime Minister Phuc was quoted by the Vietnam News Agency (VNA) as noting that Vietnam has chosen “Cohesive and Responsive” as the theme for ASEAN Year 2020.

He said that 2020 will mark five years since the formation of the ASEAN Community. While efforts to boost regional connectivity and build the Community are being enhanced, and in the face of swift and complex developments in the region and the world, the capability of sustainable cohesiveness is all the more important to ASEAN.

In 2020, Vietnam wishes to focus on fostering the bloc’s sustainable cohesiveness through consolidating solidarity and unity, increasing economic connectivity, further intensifying the values and identities of the ASEAN Community, improving the efficiency of ASEAN’s apparatus, and stepping up relations with the bloc’s partners in the global community, the Prime Minister affirmed.

According to the Vietnamese leader, through such sustainable cohesiveness, the ASEAN Community can promote its active and effective responsiveness to opportunities and challenges, including the strong development of science and technology, changes in global and regional economies, and transnational challenges that are affecting the stable and sustainable development of countries and people’s lives.

Prime Minister Phuc said cohesiveness and responsiveness are greatly complementary to each other, adding that a cohesive and developed community needs to increase its responsiveness to external factors and, in return, responsiveness can only be attained if ASEAN is a strongly cohesive bloc.

Vietnam looks forwards to the active support and assistance from other ASEAN members and partners to realize the spirit of the theme of the ASEAN Year 2020, he stressed.

Following his speech, the logo for ASEAN Year 2020 was debuted, and a short video introducing the Chairmanship of Vietnam was screened at the ceremony.

Earlier on the same day, Prime Minister Phuc attended the 22nd ASEAN Plus Three (China, Japan, and the Republic of Korea) Summit in Bangkok, as part of the 35th ASEAN Summit and related summits.

Addressing the event, the Prime Minister highlighted the significance of the ASEAN Plus Three mechanism, describing it as the most dynamic cooperation framework between ASEAN and its partners and an important motivation for global and regional economic growth, according to a report from VNA.

.Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc (fifth, right) and other leaders at the 22nd ASEAN Plus Three Summit in Bangkok on November 4 (Photo: VNA)

The Prime Minister was quoted by the news agency as saying that amid the complicated regional and global situation, the ASEAN Plus Three countries are facing many challenges, requiring them to maintain and foster multilateral cooperation, trade facilitation, and connection, while enhancing their resilience against impacts from the outside.

He proposed strengthening economic-financial partnerships as well as enhancing the efficiency and readiness of the Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralization (CMIM) agreement on crisis and crisis prevention.

It is necessary to improve the capacity for the Macroeconomic Research Office (AMRO) in giving necessary policy recommendations, he said, underlining the need to consider the promotion of measures such as developing green bonds and sustainable bonds and increasing the use of government bonds.

The Vietnamese leader asserted that connectivity is crucial in sustainable development, so it is necessary to focus resources on the improvement of infrastructure connectivity, digital connection and digital economic development, e-commerce, and smart city building.

Prime Minister Phuc also underscored the significance of people connections, in which Vietnam is working hard to increase mutual understanding among people from all walks of life in the region.

At the event, leaders affirmed the importance of the ASEAN Plus Three for peace, stability, and prosperity in the region based on the principles of mutual trust, respect, and the sharing of common benefits.

The ASEAN Plus Three countries, with 2.2 billion people and one-quarter of the world’s GDP, are cooperating in 22 areas and within 65 mechanisms.

Leaders expressed their pleasure at ASEAN Plus Three collaboration outcomes, especially in implementing the action plan for the 2018-2022 period.

Trade revenue between the ASEAN and the three partners reached $869.1 billion in 2018, accounting for 31 per cent of the bloc’s total trade in the year and representing a year-on-year increase of 6.8 per cent, they noted.

They agreed on the need to continue strengthening cooperation to make more contributions to global economic growth.

They concurred to support the open, transparent, inclusive, and law-based multilateral system as well as efforts to conclude negotiations for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), while strengthening affiliation in various areas including agro-forestry-fisheries, healthcare, social security, climate change, natural disaster and communicable disease management, economy, connectivity, and macro-economy.

At the end of the meeting, the leaders adopted an ASEAN Plus Three Leaders’ Statement on Connecting the Connectivities Initiative, and agreed to build a website for ASEAN Plus Three.

On the same day, Prime Minister Phuc attended the seventh ASEAN - US Summit in Bangkok, within the framework of the 35th ASEAN Summit and related meetings.

The Prime Minister was quoted by VNA as hailing the US as one of the longest-standing partners of ASEAN and its commitments to the bloc.

He hoped that the US would manifest its responsibility and support ASEAN’s central role in shaping regional rules-based architecture.

The Prime Minister also welcomed and encouraged US investors to join infrastructure and energy development projects in ASEAN.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc (fifth from right) at the 7th ASEAN - U.S. Summit (Photo: VNA) 

Highlighting the importance of the East Sea and countries’ responsibility for the world’s lifeline, through which $3.4 trillion worth of goods pass annually, PM Phuc reiterated ASEAN’s principled stance on the East Sea, which was reaffirmed by ministers of foreign affairs in July, saying that countries and parties concerned are responsible for protecting peace, strengthening stability, promoting dialogues, and enhancing collaboration to together build the East Sea into an area of peace, cooperation, and prosperity.

He expressed the commitment of Vietnam, the next ASEAN Chair, to continuing to push up ASEAN - US ties for the sake of peace, stability, and cooperation in the region.

US national security advisor Mr. Robert O’Brien affirmed the US’s commitments to the region and welcomed the launch of the ASEAN Outlook on Indo-Pacific, VNA reported.

In order to help nations join regional integration more deeply, he said the US has proposed the Blue Dot Network initiative that will set standards for big infrastructure projects.

The US also promises to work closely with ASEAN in mechanisms formed and led by the bloc, he added.

On regional and global issues, he reaffirmed the US’s stance of opposing acts that hinder legal economic operations in the sea and that don’t respect sovereignty and the sovereign rights of countries and international law in the East Sea. The US side wished that ASEAN member states will stay united while parties concerned will exercise restraint to peacefully settle disputes, respect the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea, and soon reach an effective Code of Conduct in the East Sea in line with international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

ASEAN countries reaffirmed their stance on supporting trade liberalization, respect of law, and responsible behavior. They called on powers to exercise restraint and not let differences, especially in trade, cause adverse impact on the regional environment.

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