KOTA BAHRU, Malaysia (VNS) — Viet Nam is one of the leading countries championing the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), the country's Minister of Industry and Trade said.
Minister Vu Huy Hoang made this statement during an interview with the Vietnam News Agency after the conclusion of the 21st ASEAN Economic Ministers' Retreat (AEM Retreat-21) in Malaysia, which took place in Kota Bahru from February 28 to March 1.
The event was an important landmark in the preparation for the ASEAN Summits in April and November, later this year.
Hoang underlined the Vietnamese Government's guidelines, programmes and strategies to implement the commitments of the AEC formation, such as facilitating administrative formalities for businesses and raising public awareness about the opportunities and challenges of joining the community.
He cited Viet Nam as one of the leading members of the community, with over 90 per cent of its commitments to the AEC's establishment having been implemented, second only to Singapore.
Viet Nam has also taken the lead in eliminating tariffs. Statistically, the country has already eliminated nearly 90 per cent of its tax rates and will strive to negate another 7 per cent of its tax rates between now and 2018, according to the minister.
The establishment of the AEC provides both opportunities and challenges for Viet Nam, especially to its business community. Viet Nam will have a strong opportunity to learn from the experience of others in State management and business administration. On the other hand, the country will also face growing competition, even domestically.
Hoang called on the State management agencies and businesses to take adequate measures and prepare carefully for the establishment of the AEC on December 31.
The AEM Retreat-21 was held to evaluate the implementation of commitments to the AEC's formation and continued discussing measures to facilitate non-tariff trade and business operations.
Ministers expressed their resolve to conclude negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement in late 2015, which will promote economic, trade and investment cooperation between the ASEAN and Japan, the Republic of Korea, China, New Zealand, Australia, and India.
Founded in 1967, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), includes Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam. — VNS