Remarks by H.E. Bui Thanh Son, Permanent Deputy Foreign Minister, APEC 2017 SOM Chair at Finance and Central Bank Deputies’ Meeting
Colleagues and friends,
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to attend this meeting and share with you the directions and priorities of APEC 2017. I am particularly thankful for the opportunity because I believe that interaction and close coordination between the Senior Officials and the Finance tracks are critical to promote greater coherence in APEC’s work and to ensure that the two processes are mutually supportive.
2017 promises to be a challenging year for the region, and for APEC in particular. We are faced with slow economic growth, stagnant trade and subdued investment. According to the IMF, short-term risks to global financial stability have abated since April 2016, but medium-term risks continue to build. In some corners, we are seeing the rise of globalization skepticism and protectionism. Uncertainties are probably what will define the overall situation.
But it is in times of difficulties like this that APEC cooperation is needed more than ever. It is not the time to rescind on commitments, to disengage or to resort to protectionism. It is the time for APEC to demonstrate its vitality, dynamism, responsiveness and responsibility. APEC should continue to champion free and open trade and investment, while ensuring that the benefits of trade and growth are enjoyed by all, not only the privileged few. What is needed is a new push for APEC to reassert its role as the engine of growth and economic integration in the region, to help address common challenges.
It is in this context that Viet Nam has chosen "Creating new dynamism, fostering a shared future" as the theme for APEC 2017. Built around this theme and continuing past outcomes and deliverables, Viet Nam has proposed four priorities, namely: (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.
This overarching theme and its four associated priorities mutually reinforcing and reflect our region’s common interests. We believe that, specific policy initiatives and actions that APEC members will put forth will help us pursue, in a more effective way, inclusive growth, freer flows of goods, investment and people. It is without question that business and employment opportunities arising from such processes will be translated into even more impressive development outcomes for our APEC societies.
With this overarching theme and priorities, our ambition is to infuse in APEC a new dynamism to build a sustainable, inclusive community, where the people and businesses are placed at the center of development.
The Finance Ministers’ process has a crucial and indispensable role to play in APEC cooperation. The goal set in the Cebu Action Plan to build an APEC community that is more financially integrated, transparent, resilient and connected, is indeed vital to support strong, sustainable, inclusive and balanced growth in the region.
The Senior Officials’ Meeting and Senior Finance Officials’ Meeting processes are also mutually supportive and complementary. There are a range of areas addressed by both SOM and SFOM, including importantly physical connectivity and infrastructure development, infrastructure investment for food security, financial services, financial inclusion, women’s economic empowerment, MSME finance, human capital development and disaster risk reduction. Coordinated actions in the two tracks will ensure better effectiveness and efficiency.
On a broader dimension, this year, APEC Senior Officials will commence deliberations on the shaping of a vision for APEC beyond 2020. Inputs from the finance track to these deliberations will be most welcomed. I would invite you to contribute to those discussions, to help shape a vision for APEC, to build an Asia-Pacific Partnership for sustainable and inclusive development for the 21st century.
As such, I look forward to close collaboration with the Finance Ministers’ process to promote greater coherence in APEC’s approach to addressing the challenges of today, including inequality, ensuring inclusive growth and addressing the backlash against globalization and free trade.
More than ever, APEC needs to send a strong message to affirm its continued commitment to maintaining open markets and pursuing economic integration. We also need to better demonstrate the benefits of globalization, free trade and investment to the public.
To conclude, Mr. Chairman, let me thank you once again for inviting me to join you today. I look forward to our continued engagement.