Keynote Address by H.E. Mr. Pham Binh Minh, Deputy Prime Minister, at the Symposium on Priorities for APEC Viet Nam 2017

KEYNOTE ADDRESS
BY H.E. PHAM BINH MINH
DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER, MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF VIETNAM
AT SYMPOSIUM ON PRIORITIES FOR APEC 2017

(Ha Noi, Viet Nam, 8th December 2016)

   

 

Distinguished participants,

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is my great pleasure to welcome you all to Ha Noi and to join us at this Symposium on the priorities for APEC 2017. It was right here in this
National Convention Center - 10 years ago - Viet Nam hosted the APEC Economic Leaders’ Week in November 2006.

I am delighted to see many familiar faces from member economies, the business community and international institutions. I wish to thank you all for your ongoing support and cooperation.

Let me take this opportunity to once again congratulate colleagues from Peru on the outstanding success of APEC 2016. This could not have been possible without your tireless efforts and able guidance.

Viet Nam is honored to be the host of APEC next year. After three decades of renovation, our country today is in a better position to make more meaningful contributions to APEC and to bring tangible benefits to businesses and people across the region. Our enhanced economic partnerships and a wide FTA network with almost all member economies are a vivid reflection of Viet Nam’s strong commitment to APEC and the Asia - Pacific region as a whole.

A CHANGING WORLD AND A TRANSFORMING APEC 

Distinguished participants

Ten years after Viet Nam hosted APEC for the first time, the world we live in today is in a state of constant change. Many regions are experiencing complex shifts.

New technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution are changing the way we live, connect and interract with each other. Uncertainties and challenges have increased and become multi-dimensional since the global financial crisis. Their impacts turn out to be far-reaching. No region and no economy can be immuned.

This year, the global economy and trade have experienced the slowest growth since the global financial crisis in 2009. The growth rates are expected to edge down to 2.2% and 1.7%, respectively.

Economic growth of APEC and beyond is strongly hit by weakening commodity prices, global trade and the tightening of monetary and fiscal policies. There are deep concerns over the rise of protectionism. The fruits of globalization are not distributed fairly among regions, economies and communities. The risks that can arise from the advancement of new technologies are increasing, and may widen the development disparity among economies.

Geopolitical conflicts, terrorism, trans-national crimes, cyber security, inequality, poverty, hunger, epidemics and never-ever-seen climate change are impeding economic growth and sustainable and inclusive development.

In an increasingly interconnected world, there are emerging challenges to APEC’s efforts to achieve the Bogor Goals by 2020, quality growth and regional integration. Efforts to reform APEC are not keeping pace with expectations.

Given the proliferation of emerging regional arrangements, APEC is called upon to further transform itself to reassert its relevance and better serve as the premium regional economic forum. Our cooperation and integration need to be broader in scope and deeper in substance.

NEW DYNAMISM FOR A RESPONSIBLE APEC

Distinguished participants,

Taking stock of its 27-year development, APEC has shown its vitality and strength in times of hardship. At the height of the regional financial crisis in 1997 - 1998 and the global financial crisis in 2008 - 2009, APEC member economies stood together and managed to move forward.

Since then, APEC has become more adaptive. We have been working hard for structural reform, quality growth, connectivity, global value chains, liberalization of trade, investment and services, human development, and capacity-building. And we remain strongly committed to supporting the multilateral trading system.

Today, APEC must assume the responsibility to address the pressing issues of our time through forward-looking cooperation. The opportunity to galvanize APEC cooperation that benefits all has never been greater. I hope that what we can achieve in 2017 will provide fresh impetus for APEC cooperation and leadership.

At this Symposium, I expect that we can solicit new ideas to set forth priorities for next year under the overarching theme of “Creating New Dynamism, Fostering A Shared Future”. Your insights and recommendations are of crucial importance.

We have to build upon the deliverables we achieved in Peru and in previous years, to accelerate our efforts, particularly in fulfilling APEC strategies on quality growth, connectivity, structural reform, services competitiveness, and global supply chains. We expect APEC 2017 to be another step forward in this long series, with a focus on areas that benefit our people and businesses.

Let me share with you some of my thoughts on our way forward.

First, it is imperative to promote sustainable, innovative and inclusive growth. Structural reform should be high on APEC’s agenda. This is essential to boosting productivity, promoting innovative growth and narrowing the development gap. We need to strengthen inclusive and resilient communities, where the people and businesses are placed in the center. Efforts must be made to improve resilience to economic volatilities and financial shocks, as well as disasters and epidemics.  

Second, we must work to foster far-reaching regional integration and connectivity. Revitalizing trade and investment are key to regional economic growth and the achievement of the Bogor Goals by 2020. We should strengthen APEC’s work on next-generation trade and investment issues in such a way that all people can benefit from their positive effects. More importantly, we must seize the opportunities of the existing and ongoing regional arrangements such as the ASEAN Community, TPP, RCEP and FTAAP… to serve our objectives. I believe in the importance of quality infrastructure through innovative financing and public-private partnerships in bolstering regional and sub-regional connectivity.

Third, on the threshold of the digital age, we need to strongly facilitate MSMEs by supporting them to enhance their competiveness, innovation and participation in global value chains. Accounting for over 97 per cent of all our enterprises, MSMEs are an important engine of growth and a major employment generator. We should take bolder actions on the Ease of Doing Business initiative, including for start-ups and women-led businesses. As the Asia - Pacific has the world’s largest and fastest-growing internet user base, there is significant potential for cooperation on digital infrastruture and SMEs internationalization.

And fourth, given the unprecedented impacts of climate change, stronger focus should be on enhancing food security and sustainable agriculture. In this connection, I am of the view that APEC should find ways to facilitate the transfer and application of technologies to increase agricultural productivity, quality and sustainability. We also need to strengthen sustainable management of natural resources, upskilling farmers and give them better access to finance and markets. Of equal importance is to enhance trade and investment in agriculture, and to promote innovative and inclusive rural development.

In a globalized world of profound changes, APEC needs to assume greater responsibility as an incubator and driver for economic growth and integration. We must enhance our global leadership in coordinating multi-layered FTAs and RTAs, supporting an open, transparent and inclusive multilateral trading system, and in implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

It is time for us to shape APEC’s post-2020 vision for an “Asia - Pacific Partnership for Sustainable and Inclusive Development in the 21st Century” - a genuine partnership for peace, stability, cooperation and prosperity in the region and beyond.

I thank you.