Vietnam’s PM iPhạm Minh Chính visited Indonesia to attend the ASEAN summit meeting and led a high level delegation to represent Vietnam at the regional summit meeting . The 42nd ASEAN summit which was held from May 9th to 11th at Labuan Bajo raised issues pertaining to the regional security, economic development ,trade and digital economy. One of the important aspects which has been highlighted in the last few years has been the realisation of the ASEAN community vision 2025 and post 2025. It is also important to highlight the fact that the Southeast Asian member countries of this regional organisation have been raising issues with the governments for post COVID recovery, promoting economic growth, intra regional trade, economic integration, and addressing issues related to geopolitical challenges. Another important challenge has been to steer the regional organisation in embracing the digital innovations and technology, and also utilising it for promoting trade and commerce within ASEAN, and promote digital workforce which can be productively engaged in developing the digital economy and society.
During the COVID-19 pandemic few issues which have been highlighted were related to alternate supply chains, long term commitments of the governments towards the wellbeing of the citizens and also promoting the ecosystem related to health and medicine.One of the major strengths of ASEAN has been particularly with regard to the skilled workforce, better than average economic growth, large natural resources and better integration at the regional level. Although, it has been seen that with the growth in digital economy there is a need for better financial infrastructure, and also promoting public private partnership to reach the targeted goals related to economic development and digital transformation. In the last few years ASEAN has also taken note of more dynamic, inclusive, resilient, adaptive ASEAN community which could respond to pandemics and natural disasters in a better way and adapt to the new kind of geopolitical permutations and combinations evolving at the global stage. The Southeast Asian countries have also been facing challenges related to meeting the obligation under the climate change, extensive research in counter measures with regard to pandemics, better health and medical facilities and also look for a better regional cohesive organisation post 2025.
Vietnamese Prime Minister during his interactions has also talked about eliminating the bureaucratic hurdles and bringing up more better coordination between legislative and administrative branches. He also talked about a better legal framework at the regional level which can help in trade and investment, and facilitate better dispute resolution mechanisms. Given the fact that tensions in the Eurasian region particularly with reference to Russia and Ukraine as well as in South China Sea, there is need for reinventing the ASEAN mandate of consensus making and addressing issues in a more cohesive way. This was alluded perfectly in the context of international norms and maintaining international law as the core of any resolution of the conflicts related to boundary and territorial waters. One interesting thing which has been buttressed by Prime Minister Chinh was related to empowerment of youth and also engaging youth in addressing social issues so that positive changes and greater participation of the civil society is ensured. Interestingly, he also alluded to the fact that there is need for education and knowledge creation so that the Southeast Asian citizens could be seen as a learned community and also promote innovation and enterprise among the youth in Southeast Asia. He also talked much about trade and investment facilitation, promoting inclusiveness and stressed on the fact that the ASEAN three community pillars need to be seen from the perspective of better business facilitation, promoting strategic infrastructure, better trained workforce for ensuring the 4th industrial revolution, sustained digital transformation, green economy, and adaptation to new kind of technologies.
During his interactions he has clearly outlined the need for a futuristic approach and address the issues of mutual concern at the regional level. On the sidelines of the summit meeting, he had also interacted with the various heads of state and government with regard to promoting trade and investment. His meetings with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsein Loong was a precursor for better engagement between the two countries as both Vietnam and Singapore are celebrating 50th year of bilateral diplomatic ties and a decade of bilateral strategic partnership. Given the fact that Singapore is one of the pioneers in Southeast Asia in digital economy therefore the countries can work together on promoting digital economy, green energy and also fulfilling the requirements at the global level related to net zero emissions by 2050.
During his meetings with the Philippine president Marcos there was much talk with regard to strategic partnership between the twi countries and exploring new vistas for cooperation between the two communities. Prime Minister of Vietnam offered to supply rice to Philippines at a reasonable price and thereby contributing to the food security of the Philippines. The two sides also expressed desire to work on areas such as high technology, tourism, marine economy, education, manufacturing and industrial development. Vietnam has been making strong pitch for education and knowledge economy, and acknowledges the fact that in order to sustain better than average growth it will have to make certain long term decisions which can help Vietnam not only to be a manufacturing but a services economy as well.
During his meeting with Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, the discussion was primarily related to promoting economic relations, trade, and investment between the two countries. The countries would also be celebrating 50th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic ties. The trade basket of the two countries comprises of fisheries, agriculture products, rice, electronic items, and packaged food. Given the fact that Malaysia also invites Vietnamese labour for working in Malaysia, the terms of labour mobility were discussed in March last year and a labour cooperation agreement between the two countries was signed. On areas related to maritime cooperation, a proposal was accepted for establishment of a hotline. During Malaysia’s representation with regard to extended continental shelf to the UN Vietnam has supported this initiative and alongside Vietnam many Western countries as well as Indonesia and Philippines have also supported this representation at the global level. There has been interaction with Laos counterpart and it was stated that the two countries would be working together in promoting trade and investment and also look for better avenues for Laos exporting its products to the outer world through the Vietnamese ports.The visit of Vietnam’s PM has been successful as he highlighted the futuristic agenda for ASEAN.