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ASEAN bonding key to prosperity

Update: April, 26/2013 - 09:54
Leaders of ASEAN countries hold a meeting yesterday in the framework of the 22nd ASEAN Summit in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei . — VNA/VNS Photo Duc Tam

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN (VNS)— ASEAN needs to continue to unify to ensure peace, security and development in the region, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has said.

Speaking at the 22nd ASEAN summit in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei, which ended yesterday, Dung said more co-operation was needed to cope with the global economic crisis, natural disasters, climate change, maritime security and epidemics.

He said ASEAN should make the best use of the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation (TAC), the Southeast Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty (SEANWFZ), the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC), the Declaration on the East Asia Summit on principles for mutually beneficial relations, the ASEAN Regional Forum and ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting Plus.

Regarding the East Sea issue, the PM proposed the association raise a united voice for peace, stability, maritime security and safety.

He noted the effective implementation of commitments and agreements such as the Declaration on Six-point Principles on the East Sea, and the ASEAN-China joint statement on the 10th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Conduct, the settlement of disputes by peaceful measures, the respect of international law - especially the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) - and the early conclusion of the Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC).

Affirming Viet Nam's support for Thailand as the coordinator in the ASEAN and China dialogue relations, Dung said the two sides needed to accelerate negotiations.

Dung's views were shared by other ASEAN leaders, who agreed that the East Sea issue was a matter of concern for the entire organisation as it related to peace and security in the region.

ASEAN leaders also expressed satisfaction at the progress towards setting up an ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) by the end of 2015.

However, ASEAN member countries need to make greater efforts to realise the goal, according to the Chairman's statement at the Summit.

The statement said 77.57 percent of the AEC Blueprint had been implemented to date.

The leaders agreed to enhance ASEAN's competitiveness by facilitating trade and investment, leveraging upon on-going work to establish the AEC.

They also recommended rolling out a roadmap of initiatives to simplify ways of doing business and addressing investment impediments in the region.

Filipino Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo said ASEAN had already achieved about three quarters of its targets relating to the goal of a single-market since it began the process in 2007.

But he also said many challenges were ahead, including a framework to open up the services sector within ASEAN, which includes banking, insurance, telecommunications and retail.

On trade, Domingo said agriculture was among the most difficult sectors to fully liberalise.

Official statistics show that since the adoption of the blueprint in November 2007, per capita income in the region has risen from US$2,267 to $3,759 a year.

PM meets Sultan

On Wednesday, PM Dung met with the Sultan of Brunei, Haji Hassanal Bolkiah.

Dung congratulated Brunei on becoming the 2013 ASEAN chair and said he highly valued its ties with the country.

The PM suggested the two sides speed up negotiations and promptly sign memoranda of understanding on agriculture, fishery and labour cooperation, and an agreement to encourage and protect investment.

The two sides pledged to strengthen mutual trust, understanding and the exchange of high-level delegations between the two nations' ministries and departments.

The Sultan vowed to facilitate links in oil and gas, fisheries and agriculture with Viet Nam.

Regarding regional and international issues, the two leaders agreed to increase exchanges and consultations on issues of common concern, support each other at regional and international forums, particularly within ASEAN.

PM meets counterparts

Dung also took the opportunity to hold bilateral meetings with his Thai and Singaporean counterparts Yingluck Shinawatra and Lee Hsien Loong, alongside Filipino President Benigno S Aquino.

At the meeting with Yingluck, the two sides noted with pleasure their growing friendship and all-around co-operation in the fields of national security and defence, trade, investment and socio-culture in recent times, especially since the Viet Nam–Thailand Joint Cabinet convened its second meeting on in October 2012.

Last year, two-way trade hit $9.67 billion and in total Thailand has invested in 300 projects worth $6.12 billion in Viet Nam.

The two leaders agreed to assign relevant departments to complete the details of a strategic partnership between the two nations.

Dung spoke highly of Thailand's co-ordinating role in ASEAN–China ties and declared that Viet Nam was always willing to work with Thailand towards this goal.

When greeting his Singaporean counterpart, Dung hailed Singapore as Viet Nam's leading investment partner, and noted that it had injected nearly 1,100 projects at a combined capital of $24 billion. In 2012, two-way trade between the two countries hit $9.6 billion.

The Singaporean PM will visit Viet Nam in September, when the two countries are expected to issue a joint declaration pledging to lift bilateral ties to a strategic partnership, which will mark a new stage in their relationship.

At a meeting with Filipino President Aquino, Dung again praised the development of bilateral ties. Two-way trade between the regional partners reached nearly $3 billion last year.

The Vietnamese PM called for Aquino to seek the prompt release of 24 Vietnamese fishermen held by the Philippines. Aquino promised to actively deal with the issue. — VNS

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