|ASEAN Secretary-General Kao Kim Hourn spoke to the Vietnam News Agency ahead of the 42nd ASEAN Summit in Indonesia. — VNA/VNS Photo Hữu Chiến|
JAKARTA — Since joining the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 1995, Việt Nam has made important, productive and positive contributions, stated ASEAN Secretary-General Kao Kim Hourn.
In an interview granted to Vietnam News Agency (VNA)’s correspondents in Jakarta ahead of the 42nd ASEAN Summit, the ASEAN Secretary-General said that he has learned about Việt Nam’s fast transformation and outstanding development achievements in recent years.
With about 100 million people, ranking third among ASEAN member countries in population, Việt Nam has strong economic potential with high investment attraction and fast social development, he said, adding that the “S”-shape country is one of the ASEAN members that draw great attention in investment, tourism and trade.
“I think Việt Nam has been playing a very important role, I mean, a major contributor to ASEAN,” he stated.
Regarding key issues to be discussed at the 42nd ASEAN Summit, which will take place from May 9-11 in Indonesia with the participation of 11 countries, Kao Kim Hourn said that the event will focus on intra-bloc issues, including the ASEAN Community building, regional integration and priorities of the ASEAN Chair in 2023. ASEAN leaders will meet the High-Level Task Force on ASEAN Community Post-2025 Vision (HLTF-ACV) and give their ideas on the building of a strategic vision towards 2045.
Along with the agenda on economy, digital economy, climate change response and regional and international issues of shared concern, participants will discuss the promotion of the ASEAN Outlook on the Indo-Pacific (AOIP) in four major aspects of maritime cooperation, connectivity, sustainable development goals, economy and other fields.
Regarding the ASEAN 2023 theme “ASEAN Matters: Epicentre of Growth," Secretary-General Kao Kim Hourn stressed that ASEAN remains an important player both regionally and globally. That's why the association continues to attract a lot of interest from external partners, some of which want to upgrade their partnership with the ASEAN and join ASEAN led mechanisms, he said.
He held that amid the global economic uncertainties, it is important that ASEAN continues to work together to ensure that the association remains attractive to investors from outside the region and dialogue partners. At the same time, it is necessary for the grouping to make sure that the region remain peaceful, stable and secure to draw investors and tourists, he added.
The ASEAN leader said that Timor Leste, which is in the process to become the 11th member of ASEAN, will also attend the summit. He affirmed that ASEAN will assist Timor Leste in terms of capacity building so that the country can be well prepared to take advantage of being a full member of ASEAN, in the very near future.
Mentioning the building of an effective Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC), Secretary-General Kao Kim Hourn reiterated that during a retreat in early February, ASEAN Foreign Ministers agreed to speed up negotiations for the deal. Indonesia, as the ASEAN Chair in 2023, hopes to expedite the negotiations of the COC, building on the implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) in the past 21 years.
He went on to say that to ensure an effective COC, it is necessary to rely on the member states that will be directly taking part in the negotiation between ASEAN and China.
He said: “Certainly, of course, what constitutes effective would be something that COC would be meaningful, substantial, that would be able to agree upon by the party states that participate in the negotiations of the COC."
"And that's why the negotiation process is very important. Not only just the outcome, but also the negotiation process, where to focus on the process right now, to make sure that the interests and the needs of the different countries, the different parties states to the COC will have to be sorted out.”
ASEAN's economic priorities
Việt Nam has made positive contributions to materialising economic priorities of ASEAN in 2023, Chairman of the ASEAN Business Advisory Council 2023 (ASEAN-BAC) Arsjad Rasjid said in a recent media interview ahead of the 42nd ASEAN Summit.
He said that Việt Nam has been an important player in promoting trade and investment within the region and beyond, as the country has actively participated in initiatives such as the ASEAN Free Trade Area and recently expressed interest in joining the cross-border payment connectivity network, which is a positive development for the region's economic integration.
According to him, Việt Nam's upcoming hosting of the ASEAN Wind Energy 2023 event is a significant contribution to the region's renewable energy goals.
He cited the International Renewable Energy Agency as saying that Southeast Asia has a cumulative installed wind capacity of 8.5GW at the end of 2020, and the projected capacity is 35GW by 2030 if current policies and targets are achieved. Việt Nam is the largest wind market in the region, with a generation capacity of 13.9GW planned for 2025.
“Overall, I think that Việt Nam's contributions have been significant in moving forward the economic agenda of ASEAN, and their commitment in various initiatives demonstrate their willingness to work towards a more integrated and prosperous region, stated Arsjad Rasjid.
The ASEAN-BAC has identified five priority economic issues that need to be addressed this year, namely digital transformation, sustainable development, health recovery, food security, and trade and investment. To advance these priorities, ASEAN-BAC has developed eight “legacy projects” towards an integrated, connected and sustainable economic region, Arsjad Rasjid said, adding that these projects are the ASEAN QR Code, Marketplace Lending Platform, Wiki Entrepreneur, ASEAN Net Zero Hub, Carbon Center of Excellence, ASEAN One Shot Campaign, Inclusive Closed-Loop Model for Agricultural Products, and the ASEAN Business Entity.
These priority initiatives of the ASEAN-BAC have received support from all ASEAN economic ministers and made progress, he said. — VNS