Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — Globalisation promotes economic integration and fosters a new wave of bilateral and multilateral free trade agreements (FTAs), creating opportunities for and optimism about investment and business towards sustainable development, said Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc in Brussels yesterday.
As the first leader to speak at the 16th Asia-Europe Business Forum (AEBF), Phúc said the era of globalisation and the rapid advancement of science and technology in the 4.0 Industrial Revolution were changing production methods and many aspects of social life, building international links via multilateral frameworks at the regional and global level.
"The world is moving very fast and all of you, who are investors and businesspeople in the competitive environment, feel the heat of these strong changes, with both challenges and new opportunities opening up," said Phúc.
In that picture, Asia and Europe emerge as the bright spots of global economic growth and connectivity. Asia continues to be the main driver, contributing significantly to the world’s economic growth. Asia is a global connectivity hub, in which ASEAN, since 2011, has implemented the "Master Plan for ASEAN Connectivity", with three main components including infrastructure connectivity, institutional connectivity and human connectivity.
Asia is also the focus of economic integration with more than 150 FTAs, accounting for about 60 per cent of all FTAs in the world. The Asian seas are home to international maritime routes with annual trade value of around US$5 trillion, with most goods exchanged between Asia and Europe.
The PM note that on October 17, the European Commission adopted the EU – Việt Nam free trade agreement (EVFTA), an important step for the two sides to sign the agreement in late 2018 and ratify it in the first half of 2019.
“In the context of increasingly complicated and intertwined challenges, it’s time for us to further strengthen linkages to accelerate the Asia-Europe cooperation and association process effectively, meeting the demands of the business community on two continents, towards sustainable and prosperous development,” said Phúc.
At the forum, which gathered more than 400 leaders from the world leading groups and business community of the two continents, Phúc proposed to organise periodic dialogues among leaders of the countries in Asia and Europe during the ASEM Summit in order to broadly discuss issues of mutual concern and interest.
He said it was necessary to take the initiative in connecting enterprises with enterprises and developing partnerships to implement FTAs between Eurasia economies.
In addition, businesses needed to actively contribute to personal connections by enhancing corporate responsibility to the social community for job creation, environmental protection and coping with global challenges, for the sake of sustainable development and prosperity.
The PM also shared with the business community the economic outlook of Việt Nam in the face of the world economic situation, which is dealing with great uncertainty.
He said Việt Nam had maintained a high growth rate in past years. It’s now a trading partner of more than 200 countries and territories. With 16 signed FTAs, Việt Nam would have free trade relations with many countries and major partners, promoting connectivity and deepening participation in value chains and global supply chains.
"We are not only striving to reach the top of ASEAN but also to meet the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) high standards of business environment. We put businesses in the central position as a leading role and driving force for the country’s development.
We are also keen to inspire the startup spirit, especially among young people, with practical incentives to nurture ideas, aiming to reach one million businesses by 2020," said Phúc.
He said that over 30 years of Vietnamese economic renovation and opening up to global integration, European partners had become close friends of Việt Nam. Europe was a large FDI investor with total investment of nearly $25 billion. It was also the largest non-refundable aid provider of Việt Nam. Two-way trade had increased five-fold in the 2006-17 period, reaching over $50 billion in 2017.
According to Eurocham’s March 2018 survey, 90 per cent of European businesses want to increase their investment in Việt Nam, demonstrating the potential for bilateral cooperation. In order to stimulate this cooperation potential, together with the implementation of the Framework Agreement on Partnership and Comprehensive Partnership (PCA), the early signing and ratification of EVFTA will be a breakthrough, creating a new driving force for the trade and investment linkages between Việt Nam and the EU as well as Europe.
The AEBF brought together business leaders from Asia and Europe who share the goal of strengthening trade and investment relations between the two continents. The AEBF traditionally convenes in parallel with the Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM) and is an ideal platform to engage with political leaders from both regions and communicate to them concrete ideas on how to tackle today’s and tomorrow’s challenges and boost economic growth, development and job creation across the two continents.
The 16th AEBF is organised by BusinessEurope. As reflected in the title “Connectivity – Building Bridges between Europe and Asia”, the core theme of this year’s AEBF will be the role of businesses in increasing links between Asia and Europe in view of the present political, economic and technological challenges. Keynote addresses by political leaders highlighted the importance of connectivity for the relations between the two regions while two panel discussions between European and Asian business executives will focus on the role of enterprises in building bridges between the two continents and in responding to global technological challenges. — VNS