|Việt Nam chaired the ASEAN Plus Three Forum on Good Governance in Hà Nội on August 5. — VNA/VNS Photo|
HÀ NỘI — Joining the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) was the first step for Việt Nam in the process of international integration, and the bloc has served as a gateway for the country’s integration into the region and the world, said Phạm Quỳnh Mai, deputy director of the Multilateral Trade Policy Department at the Ministry of Industry and Trade.
She made the remark during an interview with the press on Thursday on the sidelines of a conference on communications ahead of ASEAN's 55th founding anniversary (August 8, 1967 - 2022).
Việt Nam became an official member of ASEAN on July 28, 1995, a turning point that marked the end of a period full of difficulties, helping the country escape from sanctions, and opening up a period of integration for common development in Southeast Asia.
Since becoming part of ASEAN, Việt Nam has played a proactive part in the common activities of the association, especially economic cooperation.
Promoting the establishment of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) was always one of the top priorities in the country’s international economic integration process. Together with other member states, Việt Nam worked hard to carry out commitments and initiatives to implement the master plan for the AEC building. As a result, the AEC came into being on December 31, 2015, with the goal of turning ASEAN into a single market and production base, Mai said.
She went on to say that Việt Nam has also joined other ASEAN members in promoting extensive economic ties with partners such as China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, India, Australia, New Zealand, the US, the EU, Canada, and the UK, as well as signing and enforcing the bloc’s free trade agreements with some of those partners. This has helped boost trade and economic partnerships between ASEAN, including Việt Nam, with partners.
As Chair of ASEAN in 2020, the country and other members brought into play the “Cohesive and Responsive” spirit through hundreds of virtual meetings and numerous initiatives to create conditions for consolidating regional supply chains and addressing the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on economies.
Furthermore, as Chair of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Ministerial Meeting, Việt Nam also coordinated with ASEAN members and partner countries to promote consensus in dealing with issues during the RCEP negotiation process, finalising talks, and signing the deal on November 15, 2020.
This was a result of great efforts during Việt Nam’s ASEAN Chairmanship Year 2020 and won high evaluation from partners, helping strengthen the country’s reputation in the region and the world, according to Mai.
After 27 years of being an ASEAN member, the Vietnamese economy has recorded breakthroughs in all aspects, with per capita GDP surging by over 13-fold, the economy expanding over 17-fold to US$362.6 billion in 2021 from $20.7 billion in 1995, and export turnover rising to $336.3 billion in 2021 from $5.2 billion in 1995.
The official added the economic integration into ASEAN has created a solid stepping stone for Việt Nam’s international economic integration, practically helping to generate breakthroughs in economic development over the past years, increase exports, expand partnership opportunities for enterprises, improve people’s life quality, create more jobs, and boost people’s access to diverse and quality goods with reasonable prices from around the world.
As such, the implementation of cooperation commitments within the AEC has been bringing practical benefits to Việt Nam, its businesses, and people, as well as ASEAN at large, she noted. —VNS