TOKYO — Secretary-General of the ASEAN-Japan Centre (AJC) Masataka Fujita has appreciated the continued efforts by the Vietnamese Government to hold a successful ASEAN chairmanship in 2020, especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Việt Nam has been successful in managing and organising all the meetings, he said in an interview with Vietnam News Agency correspondents in Tokyo, on the occasion of the 37th ASEAN Summit and related meetings from November 12-15.
This year is special in the sense that all countries have been suffering from the pandemic. But, as a successful country in terms of controlling the COVID-19 pandemic, Việt Nam can take the lead in not only surviving but also becoming stronger, he stated.
The official emphasised the importance of actions taken by Việt Nam's Government to boost post-pandemic economic recovery, adding that this is a “good opportunity for Việt Nam to show how to get stronger”.
To cope with the uncertain future caused by the pandemic, Fujita highlighted the need to make economies and supply chains much stronger and more resilient.
He lauded Việt Nam’s choice of theme for its chairmanship year as ‘cohesive’, saying Việt Nam is concerned about the limited scope of intra-regional in ASEAN’s trade value and investment and the country is pushing for deeper integration.
“If you look at the European Union (EU), perhaps it is more integrated than ASEAN. In the EU, 70 per cent or so is intra-regional. Therefore, the EU itself benefits each other. But, in the case of ASEAN, most of its transactions take place outside the region. I think this is what area ASEAN should improve. First of all, benefits should go to people within the community,” he said.
"Regarding the theme 'responsive', I think ASEAN is quite responsive. For example, this time, in COVID-19 crisis, again, I appreciated ASEAN in the sense that the bloc made the political commitment earlier than G7. Actually, ASEAN made the collective political commitment sometime in March. A political commitment to deal with such a pandemic is quite important because it gives ministries to deal with it,” Fujita noted.
Việt Nam is one of the successful countries in ASEAN that came out of the crisis so it has started to show how ASEAN can become more resilient, he noted.
“This is what I want to see in the next stage," he added.
Attention should be paid to risk management to stay ready in response to any financial crisis, natural disaster or pandemic, he said.
According to him, not only ASEAN but also Japan has learned how slow they are in this transformation. Most of the countries are experiencing negative growth, while only Việt Nam has positive growth this year.
“When you look at the industrial structure, not all the industries are down. In fact, IT-related areas are still growing. In the US and other countries where stock prices are rising, actually, all the rising stocks came from IT-related companies. Therefore, digitalisation is quite important, and this time, both ASEAN and Japan learned how slow we are. In this particular area, I think ASEAN and Japan can co-operate further,” said Fujita.
He also suggested both sides strengthen co-operation in healthcare.
The official said that all countries are suffering from the pandemic and there are some countries ready for relaxation in investment in the healthcare sector and to establish companies producing masks or personal protective gear as well, adding the industries which are resistant to such a crisis should be promoted further. — VNS