The year 2017 is coming and it will be an important milestone in the history of Vietnam’s diplomacy, international economic cooperation when we carry an honored responsibility: the host of the 25th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC).
This is the 2nd time, since 2006, Vietnam hosting the APEC Summit.
In the past 27 years since its formation, undergoing the ups and downs of the world economy, APEC has proven its strong vitality and is the most dynamic region of the global economy. Vietnam, one of three latest members, with 18 years of membership, has also proved its role: a Southeast Asian nation that always strives for innovation, active integration into the region and the world and has many initiatives to promote common goals of APEC.
However, in the current context of many new developments, when the world economy is slowly recovering, APEC economies in general and Vietnam in particular are facing major challenges.
With the theme "Creating a new momentum, cultivating the future," what do we expect from the APEC Year 2017?
To answer this question, VietNamNet organized the roundtable talks: "APEC Year 2017, opportunities and challenges for Vietnam", with the participation of two guests, Mr. Nguyen Minh Vu, Deputy Head of the APEC 2017 National Secretariat’s Standing Committee, and Dr. Vo Tri Thanh, former Deputy Director of Central Institute for Economic Management.
VietNamNet: In 2006 when Vietnam hosted the APEC Summit for the first time, Vietnam did not join the World Trade Organization (WTO) yet. In ten year later, Vietnam signed a lot of Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) and many bilateral and multilateral cooperation agreements. At the same time the world changed a lot. In such a situation, what challenges and opportunities will Vietnam face when it hosts APEC Summit 2017?
Mr. Nguyen Minh Vu
Nguyen Minh Vu: Our country hosts the APEC 2017 in the context that the region and the world has changed profoundly and the instability and vulnerability is more unpredictable: it’s the shift of power from West to East, stiff challenges of traditional and non-traditional security issues, and the director impact of the fourth technological revolution on all aspects of life.
That situation has created challenges and opportunities for Vietnam in hosting the APEC Summit. The first opportunity is: although Asia- Pacific grows slowly but it is still the driving force of growth and global links. Vietnam’s host of the APEC 2017 is an opportunity for us to show the of leading Asia- Pacific region to continue promoting trade liberalization.
The second opportunity is we're getting a huge commitment of cooperation of the major economies in the region. They want to cooperate with Vietnam to jointly maintain the role of APEC as the driving forces of growth and global links. By hosting APEC Summit 2017, Vietnam can not only participate in multilateral activities of APEC, but can also deepen our relations with APEC economies.
This is also an important opportunity for provinces and cities to show their potential, to cooperate with foreign partners and to promote the image of the country and people of Vietnam.
We also face challenges such as the slow recovery of the regional economy and the pressures of handling intertwined challenges and traditional and non-traditional security issues. For example, climate change, food security, epidemics or terrorism are posing very big challenges for APEC cooperation process in general and for Vietnam as the host country of APEC 2017 in particular.
Dr. Vo Tri Thanh: In any circumstance, APEC must be APEC, with emphasis on the liberalization of trade and investment, and behind that is the story of development and benefits sharing for all members of APEC.
The first challenge is the trend of trade liberalization, isolate investment, and protectionism.
Secondly, APEC Summit 2017 will take place in the context that the world, the region, and APEC members are struggling with the process of economic recovery, having to reduce growing risks while having to speed up reform in order to create new impetus for development.
In this new context, with one side is traditional trade liberalization related to tariff reductions, the non-tariff barriers and the other side is to modify barriers, to meet new standards.
Vietnam can contribute an important voice to create the dynamics for APEC. Vietnam can be the place of gathering of APEC members.
VietNamNet: Mr. Vo Tri Thanh, since joining APEC in 1998 and especially after hosting APEC 2006, what important achievements that Vietnam has obtained and what obstacles that we have encountered?
Dr. Vo Tri Thanh: Vietnam’s development process is the interaction between integration and internal reforms.
I would like to tell the story when I studied in Australia 15 years ago. At that time APEC was just established and Vietnam began opening its door and performed renovation. I met an Australian professor who told me that Vietnam had to join APEC and Vietnam must know about APEC.
It is important that Vietnam combined integration with reform and when it joined APEC, it is the cradle of many initiatives. Vietnam has gradually participated in a very positive way in APEC’s activities.
When we just joined APEC, we had to listen to other members and had to actively participate in and make positive contribution to APEC’s activities. APEC is a forum for trade and investment, so it is a playground where we have the opportunity to learn a lot. Thirdly, APEC helps Vietnam to participate in the negotiation process, whether bilateral agreements or FTAs and WTO.
Mr. Nguyen Minh Vu: I completely agree with Dr. Vo Tri Thanh. We can look at the benefits of participation in APEC from the direct or indirect, static or dynamic perspective.
Vietnam’s admission to APEC has made positive impact on the reform process as well as integration of Vietnam. This is a very important stepping stone for us to be able to participate in mechanisms of deeper integration in the global range.
Vietnam joined APEC in 1998 and hosted the first APEC Summit in 2006, through which we could promote the implementation of the Bogor Goals and negotiations for WTO membership. The direct impact of APEC is showed through numbers.
Looking at the period 2010-2015, 2005-2015 we can see very clearly that in 2005, 2006 we had 3 FTA partners who are APEC members and the current number is 13 out of 16 FTAs in the Asia- Pacific region. In 2006 we had only two strategic partners but now we have 13 comprehensive strategic partners who are member of APEC.
Statistics of investment attraction, trade and tourism all increased highly. In 2005, 66% of the total foreign investment in Vietnam came from APEC economies and the current figure is up to 78%. Export revenue also rose from 65% to over 78% for countries from the Asia- Pacific region. Tourism and education also rose. I think the direct benefits for Vietnam from its APEC membership is enormous.
I would like to emphasize the extremely important benefit: we participate into the framework of cooperation with the economies at a higher level of development, we take part equally in activities of policy and exchange of reform experience, through which we can improve our capacity of policy planning and integration.
Vietnamese enterprises participating in the Asia Pacific playground also have access to the region's leading corporations; thereby they can improve the visibility and collaboration capabilities with foreign businesses of higher level.
All these things will make positive and spread impact to the reform process in the country as well as help develop relationships with the outside world at a broader scale.
To be continued…