BANGKOK — Việt Nam will work with other ASEAN member states to expand and deepen relations between the bloc and its partners in the fields of trade, investment, sub-regional development, worker training, marine co-operation, cybersecurity and tourism, said Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Phạm Bình Minh.
Minh made the statement at ministerial meetings between ASEAN and some of its partners – Australia, India, the European Union (EU), the Republic of Korea and Canada – within the framework of the 52nd ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM-52) and related meetings in Bangkok, Thailand on August 1.
The Deputy PM expressed his concern over developments in the East Sea, including ongoing militarisation and unilateral actions against international law and the spirit of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC), which have undermined trust and caused negative impacts on peace, security and stability in the region.
Minh reiterated ASEAN’s principled stance, emphasising the importance of increasing trust and restraint as well as not using or threatening to use force. He noted the importance of strictly abiding by international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and of fully implementing the DOC and completing an effective and practical Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC) in accordance with international law.
At the ASEAN-Australia Ministerial Meeting, both sides agreed to implement the ASEAN-Australia Counter-Trafficking Initiative (2018-2028), intensify co-operation in marine security, counter-terrorism and fighting cross-border crimes, promote and protect the rights of women and children, boost partnerships in education and training and develop high-quality human resources.
They said they would work to upgrade the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement (AAZFTA) to facilitate the development of micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises, expand investment and strengthen sub-regional connectivity and co-operation. The ministers approved the ASEAN-Australia Plan of Action for the 2020-2024 period.
At the ASEAN-India Ministerial Meeting, the ministers were unanimous in their support for fostering collaboration in marine affairs, information technology, health and pharmaceuticals, human resources training, connectivity and infrastructure, including a plan to connect expressways from ASEAN countries to India.
The Indian Foreign Minister said India would work with the ASEAN countries to quickly finish negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). The official also spoke highly of Việt Nam's contributions to boosting ties between the two sides in its capacity as the co-ordinator for ASEAN-India relations in the 2015-2018 period.
The ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting saw both sides agree that ASEAN and the EU are the most successful regional organisations, leading the world in boosting regional connectivity, multilateral co-operation and trade-investment liberalisation.
The ministers promised efforts to upgrade the ASEAN-EU relationship to a strategic partnership and agreed to intensify collaboration in cybersecurity, border management, combating transnational crime and terrorism, marine security, climate change adaptation, environmental protection and sustainable development.
Both sides acknowledged the EU’s ratification of a free trade agreement (FTA) with Singapore and its signing of another FTA with Việt Nam, and said they were important steps towards the building of an FTA between the two blocs in the future.
At the ASEAN-Republic of Korea Ministerial Meeting, ASEAN member states welcomed the RoK’s efforts to carry out its New Southern Policy in order to intensify co-operation with ASEAN through “three Ps” – Peace, Prosperity and People.
The two sides said they would continue to step up co-operation in economy, trade and investment; strengthening business connectivity; developing micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises; and developing the digital economy, e-commerce and smart cities.
ASEAN welcomed the RoK’s proposal to boost co-operation in highly skilled labour and expand scholarship and vocational training programmes for the bloc’s member states.
Both sides agreed to soon finalise an air service agreement, work to increase the number of tourists travelling between Southeast Asian countries and the RoK, and work together to organise a commemorative summit to mark 30 years of ASEAN-RoK relations in Busan in late 2019.
At the ASEAN-Canada Ministerial Meeting, the two sides agreed to boost co-operation in the fight against terrorism, extreme violence and cross-border crimes, as well as in trade-investment, connectivity, technology, protecting the environment, coping with natural disasters and climate change, training human resources and increasing the number of tourists between the two sides.
They also pledged to reinforce an equal and rule-based multilateral trade system, enhance dialogue on trade and co-ordinate within the frameworks of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Forum and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).
Within the framework of the AMM-52 and related meetings, Minh had a meeting with Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, during which he said Việt Nam valued its relationship with China.
Minh reiterated Việt Nam's principled standpoint on the maritime issues, saying the two sides need to maintain peace and stability and avoid actions that complicate the situation, and resolve disputes in the East Sea through peaceful measures on the basis of international law, including the UNCLOS 1982.
Wang said the Chinese Party and Government treasure ties with Việt Nam and will spare no effort to maintain friendly relations between the two countries. He agreed to exchange views to address issues arising in the bilateral relationship.
The same day, Minh had bilateral meetings with Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Cambodian Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn, New Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters and British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to discuss boosting bilateral relations and talk about issues of regional and global concern. – VNS