“Creating New Dynamism, Fostering a Shared Future”. This is theme for APEC 2017 in Viet Nam.
More than 21,000 delegates took part in 243 activities held during the APEC Year 2017 in Vietnam. The APEC Economic Leaders’ Week from November 6 to 11 attracted about 11,000 delegates and leaders of all 21 member economies. Eight major documents were passed, particularly the Da Nang Declaration and the joint statement of the APEC Ministerial Meeting.
The most important outcome is that APEC continues its economic cooperation and connection impetus, brings into play its role as the leading economic connection mechanism of the region, keeps its core value of trade and investment liberalisation, and supports multilateral trade.
Four priorities were emphasized in APEC 2017 : (i) Promoting Sustainable, Innovative and Inclusive Growth; (ii) Deepening Regional Economic Integration; (iii) Strengthening MSMEs’ Competitiveness and Innovation in the Digital Age; and (iv) Enhancing Food Security and Sustainable Agriculture in Response to Climate Change.
For the first time, APEC agreed to promote economic, financial and social inclusion and innovative startups. APEC leaders also set major plans for APEC cooperation until 2020 and beyond so as to work towards an APEC for people and businesses, help to build an Asia-Pacific community of peace, stability, dynamism, inter-connectivity and prosperity, and uphold APEC’s leadership in coping with new challenges.
Since its inception nearly 30 years ago, APEC has become the premier regional economic forum, an incubator for ideas and initiatives on growth and integration as well as trade and investment liberalization. It has also become the coordinating mechanism for regional economic cooperation. By working together to strengthen APEC’s leadership in regional and global economic governance, we can turn the forecast of the 21st Century as the “Century of the Asia-Pacific” into reality.
In general, the review showed that APEC’s trade and investment performance expanded greatly over the past two decades. Also, APEC has made good progress in economic growth and social outcomes, making Asia Pacific one of the world’s most active regions and contributing to regional prosperity and poverty reduction while creating more jobs. Many trade barriers and tariffs have been removed and certain standards have been incorporated or renewed. Technical cooperative programs have facilitated regional economic integration and connectivity, leading to the formation of supply and production chains to better connect businesses. APEC extensive trade liberalization is also reflected in the growing number of free trade agreements (FTA) and regional trade agreements (RTA), from 22 to 152 over the past decade.
Vietnam in APEC
On 15 November 1998, Vietnam joined the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum. This is a milestone in the country’s comprehensive development, laying the foundation for Vietnam’s dynamic and proactive international integration.
Thanks to reforms over the last 30 years, Vietnamese economic growth has grown nearly 7 percent each year, much higher than global growth rates. Until now, Vietnam has attracted 310 billion USD of FDI, in which 165 billion USD was disbursed. 80 percent of FDI in Vietnam comes from within the Asia-Pacific region. Vietnam has established 26 strategic and comprehensive partnerships with other countries, including major economies in the Asia-Pacific and ASEAN. Vietnam has 16 FTAs either signed or under negotiation, clearly showing a strong and consistent policy to deepen international integration and further promote trade liberalisation in the region and the world.
Hosting the week and the APEC Year 2017 helped Vietnam carry out the foreign policy of diversifying and multilateralising foreign relations, integrating into the world, and boosting the effectiveness of multilateral diplomacy, with the goal of ensuring peace, stability and favourable conditions for national development. Vietnam has obtained all major targets, including improving the country’s role and stature in the international arena, strengthening its relations with other APEC economies, connecting Vietnamese enterprises with APEC firms, and popularising its development and business potential.
As the host country, Vietnam has pushed forward result-oriented collaboration among APEC members via building specific initiatives, focusing on fields that directly benefit the business community and the people, such as human resources development in the digital era, sustainable tourism, sustainable small- and medium-sized enterprises, urban and rural development, food security, start-up facilitation, and women in the economy. Member economies also hailed Vietnam’s initiative to promote inclusive economic, financial and social development and preparations for building APEC’s future after 2020. Vietnam together with APEC economies has generated new momentum for regional growth and connectivity by helping micro and small enterprises tap opportunities in the fourth industrial revolution, training workers in new skills to seek jobs in a digital era, ensuring food security amid climate change, and assisting women and vulnerable groups in economic development. Vietnam also contributed to updating the content of cooperation in a number of traditional fields this year in response to latest developments, which helps improve APEC’s adaptability in a changing world
Additionally, Vietnam made use of APEC activities to bolster ties with major partners. On the occasion of the Week, Chinese Party General Secretary and President Xi Jinping, US President Donald Trump and Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau paid visits to Vietnam. These were historic trips during which strategic agreements were reached, heralding new chapters for Vietnam’s relations with partners.
During the week, local leaders also held more than 50 meetings with leaders of partner countries. Vietnam signed 121 cooperation agreements worth nearly 20 billion USD in total. During the APEC Economic Leaders’ Week, Vietnam advertised its potential and opportunities for development, economy, trade, investment, services and tourism. Notably, the APEC CEO Summit attracted a record of over 2,000 businesses, including some 1,300 foreign firms. The Vietnam Business Summit drew about 2,200 businesses, including 850 Vietnamese companies. More than 80 meetings between localities and businesses took place on the sidelines of APEC activities, and many business cooperation plans between enterprises were formed.
Pham Thi Ngoc Bich
Ambassador of Vietnam in Finland.