Remarks by H.E. Bui Thanh Son, Permanent Deputy Foreign Minister, APEC 2017 SOM Chair at the First ABAC Meeting in 2017
I thank you for inviting me to this First Meeting for 2017 of the Council. It is always a great pleasure to attend the Council’s meetings and interact with its distinguished members. I particularly appreciate this opportunity to share with you some perspectives and expectations of Viet Nam, as host economy, for APEC in 2017.
It’s only been a few months since I last spoke to you at ABAC 4 in Lima, Peru, but we have already witnessed major developments and changes. Uncertain, unpredictable and challenging are words we frequently use these days to describe the current situation. Global economic growth is weak and fragile. Global trade is stagnant, investment is subdued. Protectionism and globalization skepticism are on the rise in different corners of the globe.
But this is not a time for despair. It is time for APEC to reaffirm its role as the premier regional economic forum, an incubator of ideas and the driver of regional growth and trade and investment. We can all recall how APEC could contribute to regional recovery from the disastrous financial and economic crisis of 2008 – 2009.
The APEC business community has always played an essential role in APEC cooperation, in good times and bad. Businesses will continue to be vital if we are to overcome the challenges we face today, and we count on businesses and ABAC in particular, to engage and advice APEC economies on ways to address current difficulties and move APEC’s agenda of trade and investment liberalization forward.
Viet Nam is proud to host APEC this year, a decade since we first hosted the Forum in 2006. The past decades of reform and robust integration have enabled Viet Nam to contribute effectively to APEC cooperation. Our experience in joining a region-wide network of FTAs with most APEC members and successes in promoting inclusive growth, sustainable development are useful stories to be shared. The commitments that the Vietnamese government has made to build an action-oriented government of integrity, working to serve the people and businesses will add to APEC's common efforts to facilitate a more open business environment for people and businesses. Viet Nam's efforts in structural reforms, improving market economy mechanisms, policies and regulations, administrative reforms are in line with the goals APEC is pursuing.
In a challenging year as this, we believe APEC must demonstrate its vitality, dynamism and responsiveness; that it must assume global leadership in addressing the challenges of today; and that it remains an incubator of ideas, an engine for innovation, and a driver for regional economic growth and integration. We believe APEC has the potential, the ability and adaptibility to do so. APEC’s policy actions are sorely needed for businesses to tap more effectively into the Asia Pacific region’s robust multi-billion-dollar markets in services, logistics, health care, digital trade as well as renewable energy to name a few, thus creating jobs and prosperity for societies.
It is with this belief that we choose “Creating new dynamism, fostering a shared future" as the theme for APEC 2017. Building around this overarching theme while ensuring continuity, Viet Nam has proposed four priorities to infuse new vitality and energy into APEC cooperation, taking into account practical needs from various APEC stake-holders such as the APEC business community as reflected in those recommendations that APEC business leaders made to APEC leaders last year in such areas as quality growth, connectivity, structural reform, services and global supply chains.
As I had the opportunity to share with you at ABAC 4 in Lima, Peru, last November, those priorities are: one, promoting sustainable, innovative and inclusive growth; two, deepening regional economic integration; three, strengthening MSMEs’ competitiveness and innovation in the digital age; and four, enhancing food security and sustainable agriculture in response to climate change. I am pleased and grateful that ABAC has indeed embraced these priorities in your own agenda of work for this year. You can rest assured that the interests of the business community will continue to be at the heart of APEC’s agenda, and APEC will continue to create a favourable environment for APEC businesses.
2017 promises to be a busy year. We are just nearly nine months away, or 257 days to be exact, from the start of the APEC high-level week in Da Nang, where APEC Economic Leaders will gather and set the direction for APEC moving forward. The business community will be and need to be strongly engaged in the ABAC Dialogue with Leaders as well as the CEO Summit. We will also be hosting the Viet Nam Economic Summit where we hope businesses will participate to explore investment and trade opportunities with Viet Nam.
As host, we call upon members of ABAC and the APEC business community as a whole to actively take part in these events, at the highest level. The presence of CEOs of major global corporations, as well as start-ups and MSMEs, will send a strong signal that the business community is confident in and committed to APEC, as the premier regional economic forum. Your ideas and recommendations, throughout the year, will help formulate the policy directions of APEC in the years to come.
We also hope you will engage the Leaders of your respective economies to encourage them to come to Da Nang. It is important that all APEC Economic Leaders jointly pronounce their strong commitment to promote trade and investment and open markets, and their willingness to join forces to ensure that APEC truly works for the people and for businesses. Your inputs, through ABAC and other APEC channels, and directly to the leaders and governments of your economies, will be vital to formulating such a message from our Economic Leaders to the region and the world.
Finally, we look forward to engaging with the business community and ABAC in particular on the substative agenda of APEC. If APEC is an incubator of ideas and policies for the region, ABAC is such an incubator for APEC. Throughout the year, Viet Nam expects to receive initiatives, ideas and recommendations on specific outcomes and deliverables aimed at achieving the Bogor Goals and implement the various strategies, blueprints and action plans endorsed by Leaders to deepen regional economic integration, enhance connectivity, promote quality inclusive growth and structural reforms.
In particular, we would greatly appreciate your inputs to help shape APEC’s Vision beyond 2020. As APEC will soon enter its fourth decade of existence, it is high time we start substantive deliberations on how we envision our shared future and set a vision for an “Asia-Pacific partnership for sustainable and inclusive development for the 21st century”. We look forward to seeing the business community’s own vision of APEC, and to your active engagement in the process, including at a Multi-stakeholder Dialogue on APEC towards 2020 and beyond that we are planning to organize.
Allow me to conclude by once again thanking you for giving me the opportunity to participate in this important meeting. I wish you a successful meeting, and hope to continue the interactions between APEC Senior Officials and ABAC.
I thank you.