Viet Nam makes efforts towards ASEAN's goals
03-02-2009, 05:00 pm
I. On the economic and financial crisis
1) How serious is the impact of the financial crisis to the Vietnamese
economy and how is the government addressing the adverse effects?
The global financial crisis is on with highly complicated developments, affecting
the world economy in general and individual economies, including Vietnam, in
particular. In the mid-2008, high inflation and widened trade deficit occurred
leading to an economic slow-down from the final months of the year to this day.
However, thanks to its strong and comprehensive measures, Vietnam managed
to control inflation, maintain macroeconomic stability, ensure social safety
net and keep a GDP growth of 6.23% with an increase of 30% in export and
attraction of US$ 64 billion of registered FDI, tripling the 2007 figure.
Since October 2008 to date, the complicated developments of the global economic
crisis and recession directly make their impacts and slow-down the Vietnamese
economy, especially by narrowing down production and business, decreasing in
export, thus greatly affecting the life and work of the people. To address
these enormous challenges, Vietnam is putting all efforts to implement
comprehensively the emergency measures with focus on prevention of economic
slow-down, stimulation of production and business, increase of export and
guarantee of social safety net. The application of these solution packages has
brought about positive initial outcomes.
With the determination to further improve the market economy structure
and enhance international integration so as to keep on with the reform of the
country on the basis of socio-political stability and the consensus and active
participation of the people and business community, Vietnam believes and hopes
that together with other countries in the region and the world, we will soon
get out of the crisis and enter in a new phase of strong and stable
2) This crisis is different from the 1997 crisis. How will the regional
grouping such as ASEAN collaborate to stay afloat during the difficult times?
Is there should be any other schemes ASEAN should come up with apart from the
standby arrangement which will be discussed by the finance ministers?
This crisis is quite different from the one in 1997, both in terms of nature
and degree of impact. As such, the response to it and the recovery from its
impacts require stronger efforts from each nation as well as better cooperation
among nations, regionally and internationally. This is a matter of special
concern for ASEAN members and other regional countries. On the sidelines of the
ASEM 7 Summit in Beijing in October 2008, the Leaders of ASEAN and ASEAN+3
discussed at length about the global financial crisis and reiterated their
commitments to enhance cooperation and policy coordination to prevent the
negative impacts on their economies and the region as a whole. At the same
time, they also explored possibilities to expand cooperation with the outside
world and accelerate intra-ASEAN cooperation.
At the upcoming Summit, ASEAN leaders are
expected to scrutinise the Report by ASEAN+3 Finance Ministers on the “Action
Plan to Restore Economic and Financial Stability of the Asian Region” for
adoption at the ASEAN+3 Summit.
The Action Plan includes four main solutions, namely: (i) proactive
macroeconomic solutions at national level; (ii) acceleration of the
multilateralisation of the Chiang Mai Initiative to create the instrument to
support the balance of payment; (iii) in-depth development of capital market
through the Asian Bond Market Initiative; and (iv) enhancement of the role of
the multilateral development banks to limit the impacts of the crisis.
In the years to come, I believe that ASEAN countries should continue to take
measures to restore market’s confidence and investors’ trust, enhance
information and experience sharing in responding to crisis, foster cooperation
in economics, trade and investment to boost each member country’s growth.
3) In the past experiences, the region has looked for some external help in
shoring our reserve of import more of our exports, but now it will be
difficult. Do you think the FTA and other measures that the ASEAN have been
launching will adequately prop up the regional economies?
We have travelled a long way on the path of ASEAN economic integration. ASEAN
is actively implementing the Master Plan on ASEAN Economic Community (AEC)
endorsed in Singapore
in November 2007. The establishment of the AEC will promote the growth and
development of each member country, increase the economic and internal strength
of ASEAN, and help ASEAN member economies overcome the current global financial
In the current context, the ASEAN Free Trade Agreement and other bilateral free
trade agreements between ASEAN and its partners (FTAs) have a crucial role to
play. They will be one of the solutions to boost two-way trading of goods and
commodities, including ASEAN exports, create more attractiveness and favourable
conditions for foreign and intra-bloc investment in the region, and help maintain
and stimulate economic growth for each member.
Economic and trade linkages between the Association and the major economic and
trading partners are a positive choice for each member economy, creating the
new position and strength for the Association in general and each economy in
I believe that the promotion of trade, investment, financial and monetary
cooperation and linkages within ASEAN and between ASEAN and its outside
partners through the frameworks of ASEAN+1, ASEAN+3, EAS will help ASEAN
economies overcome the global economic and financial crisis.
II. On the building of the ASEAN Community as per the new Charter and
1) ASEAN has been impressed by the outside partners that we are now having a
Charter, but for domestic players such as the civil society or even business
sector, they are still wondering what will be the real benefit to the closer
integration of ASEAN. What is your opinion on the new developments in ASEAN?
The adoption and entry into force of the ASEAN Charter represent a major event
of the region. The document provides a firm legal framework instrumental to the
Association’s enhanced coherence and effectiveness. It also acts as a manifesto
to the people in the region and the world on the noble goals pursued by ASEAN
towards the future, which include the reinforcement and maintenance of regional
peace and stability, creation of an enabling business environment and securing
of a safe and sustainable living environment for the people in each country.
The ASEAN Charter will play an important role in the process of building an
ASEAN Community with 3 pillars: political-security, economic and
socio-cultural. It will provide the norms for the process of expanding
cooperation, deepening integration and enhancing solidarity of ASEAN. This
document establishes new machinery and ensures that ASEAN operates in an
integrated manner for more effective implementation of its programmes and
objectives. As such, the Charter would definitely bring about practical
benefits to ASEAN and its peoples.
For the very same reasons, the 14th ASEAN Summit in Thailand has chosen the main theme
of “ASEAN Charter for the ASEAN peoples”. I am looking forwards to the
discussions on ways and means to bring the ASEAN Charter into real life and bring
the benefits of ASEAN’s cooperation and integration closer to the people.
is usually considered a core leader among the newer members in ASEAN due to the
later joining and different political system. How do you see the image of Vietnam within
the ASEAN changing during the past few years?
“Unity in diversity” is the outstanding characteristic and operational
motto of ASEAN. The Association includes countries in the region which have
different historical, cultural, political, economic and social backgrounds.
Yet, they are striving for one common goal, i.e. the building of an ASEAN of
peace, stability and development. ASEAN’s inclusion of all 10 regional
countries, with Vietnam’s
participation and then Laos,
Myanmar and Cambodia later,
has created an important turn for ASEAN. Solidarity and consensus have forged
the vitality and positive development of the Association. Each achievement and
progress of ASEAN are the joint contribution of each member.
Since its participation into ASEAN, Vietnam has been actively and
proactively making practical contributions to the furtherance of solidarity and
sustainable development of ASEAN.
In its one and a half decade of being an ASEAN member, Vietnam has
also actively carried out the reform process and recorded significant
achievements in economics and all other aspects of the country’s life with an
average annual growth of 7.5-8% for the last 20 years. We have expanded our
relations and cooperation to over 180 countries and partners in all continents,
participated actively in international and regional organizations, including
the UN, WTO, APEC and ASEAN, etc. These outcomes show that Vietnam is a
dynamically developing country, a friend and partner of all countries for
peace, independence and development.
3) The formulation of ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism is under close watch by
people within the region and outside. How do you think the new human rights
body should function amid high expression that the new mechanism should be able
to look into some problems within member countries?
supports the promotion of ASEAN cooperation in all areas, including human
As an ASEAN body, the ASEAN Human Rights Body (AHRB) is responsible to promote
and protect human rights, while at the same time, contributes to the
realisation of the common goal of building the people-oriented ASEAN Community.
In its operation, AHRB will have to conform itself to the goals and principles
of the ASEAN Charter, including the principles of consensus and
non-interference in internal affairs of other nations. Besides, it must also
attend to the distinct characteristics and diversity of the region in terms of
culture, economics, society, customs and traditions, etc. The AHRB should be
encouraged to promote cooperation, work out a common regional strategy and
approach on human rights, creating a foundation to promote cooperation to
ensure and implement human rights in the best way in line with the
particularities of each country and of the region.
4) ASEAN is also trying to come up with some plan of action for building up
of the ASEAN Security Community. However, some argue that this is not the
conducive time to forwarding the dream. The region still needs to enhance
closer economic and political integration. Confidence building is still needed
before the region could become a true community sharing and guarding same
values and security concerns. What is the Vietnamese stance on this?
The commitment to establishing the ASEAN Community by 2015 not only shows the
vision of ASEAN on the threshold of the 21st Century but also the outcomes of
ASEAN development over the past four decades, reflecting the determination for
deeper and broader integration of the member countries and creating the
preconditions for the future community and the development of a strong and
harmonised ASEAN living in peace, stability, cooperation, development and
To achieve this important goal, apart from the Charter, ASEAN has worked out a
roadmap from now to 2015 and the years beyond for the building up of the three
pillars, namely the Political and Security Community, Economic Community and
Cultural and Social Community. With such concrete steps, the building up of the
Political and Security Community and other Communities is of great significance.
This is no longer a dream but a reality.
This is indeed a process of building the confidence among countries in order to
guarantee an environment conducive to peace, stability and development.
Moreover, this process will facilitate ASEAN to further expand its cooperation
and relationship with the outside partners, especially with big countries to
gain support for ASEAN’s concerted efforts.
III. On bilateral and sub-regional cooperation
1) International organizations have been baking on Thailand and Vietnam
to help strengthen capacity of other neighbours such as Laos, Cambodia,
But how much the two countries really do to help support other members in the
Through the bilateral and multilateral cooperation programmes among countries
in the region, Vietnam and Thailand have enhanced economic and trade
exchanges and cooperation with Laos,
Cambodia and Myanmar. We
have assisted these countries in narrowing down the development gap with other
regional countries. Thailand
have taken the lead in prioritized areas of cooperation such as transportation,
human resources development, tourism, trade and investment facilitation and
cross-border movement by the cooperation programmes within the frameworks of
ASEAN, the Greater Mekong Sub-region (GMS), the East-West Economic Corridor
(EWEC), the Mekong- Ganga Cooperation (MGC) and the Ayayewady-Chao Phraya-
Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS). Vietnam has proposed and
realized the initiative on West-East Corridor (WEC) adopted by the 6th ASEAN
Summit in Hanoi
in December 1998. This initiative is aimed at eliminating hunger and reducing
poverty, and narrowing the development gap among areas in the Sub-region
through cooperation in transportation, post and telecommunication, trade,
services, tourism and human resources development. Following the initiative on
the Ayayewady- Chao Phraya- Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) by
Thailand in 2003 and with a view to promoting economic cooperation, increasing
comparative advantages among regions and countries, and narrowing the
development gap, the 3rd ACMECS Summit held on 4-7 November 2008 in Hanoi
adopted the Statement of ACMECS’ Leaders on promotion and facilitation of
trade, investment and tourism. In this meeting, the ACMECS’ Leaders agreed on
priorities of economic cooperation and promotion of intra-bloc trade and
investment in response to the challenges and adverse impacts of the global
In addition, Vietnam and Thailand have taken efforts to mobilize sources
of partners like the Asia Development Bank (ADB) and Japan, etc. for the regional
2). Donors such as Japan
have been receiving a number of requests from vacious sub-regional groupings
such as the GMS, ACMECS, and the Laos-Cambodia-Vietnam Summit. How do you think countries in the
region should streamline development projects so as to get assistance fro the
most-needed and most urgent projects?
Thanks to its strategic geo-political location and potentials for development,
both bilateral and multilateral donors have been paying due attention to the
To deploy the Cooperation Programmes within the frameworks of the Greater
Mekong Sub-region (GMS), East-West Economic Corridor (EWEC), Mekong-Ganga
Cooperation (MGC), Ayayewady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy
(ACMECS), Cambodia-Laos-Myanmar-Vietnam Summit (CLMV) and others, regional
countries have developed and introduced a list of projects urgently calling for
investment to be given to donors. The priority areas include transportation,
energy, environment, trade, investment and tourism, etc.
hopes that despite the troubled world economy, donors will continue to support
regional countries in implementing such projects. 3) How do you describe the status of Vietnamese-Thai cooperation in all
fronts? Is there anything the two governments should do to address common
challenges in the coming months?
Vietnam and Thailand are
close neighbouring countries having a long tradition of friendly relations.
During the past years, the two countries have seen remarkable progress in all
areas of cooperation. The mutual understanding and trust between the two
leaderships and peoples have been further strengthened. Exchanges of delegation
have been made regularly. Two-way trade volume in 2008 reached approximately
US$ 6.2 billion, an increase of 31% as against 2007. On investment, by March
2009, Thailand has 198
projects in operation in Vietnam
with a total registered capital of nearly US$ 5.7 billion, of which the
implemented capital is US$ 835 million. Exchanges and cooperation in such areas
as culture, education, training, sports, tourism, security, defence, and crime
prevention have also been enhanced. Cooperation mechanisms including the Joint
Commission on Trade Cooperation, Joint Cabinet Meeting, Joint Working Group on
Political and Security Cooperation have been set up and operated effectively.
The two countries have worked closely together in regional and sub-regional
cooperation frameworks as well as international forums.
In the near future, the two countries need to further enhance comprehensive
cooperation in all fields, especially economic and trade, investment, security
and defence with a view to overcoming the current negative impacts of the world
economic crisis as well as challenges brought about by globalization, thus
contributing to the stable and sustained development in each country. In
addition, the two countries need to work more closely with other ASEAN
countries in order to be successful in building the ASEAN Community for the
sake of development in each country and for peace, stability and prosperity in Southeast Asia and the world at large.
4) Vietnam and Thailand have
been discussing rice common market for several years without much success as
traders claim that price mechanism is somehow controlled by the state, so price
coordination is difficult. How do you think the two countries should
collaborate in order to build up bargaining power in the world’s commodities
is prone to unexpected natural disasters and floods, badly impacting
agricultural production and as such, food security is always our top concern.
Every year, Vietnam
puts aside a sufficient amount of rice for domestic demand and some for export,
thus contributing to the joint efforts of the international community to
stabilise food prices and ensure global food security.
Vietnam always attaches
importance to its cooperation with Thailand and other major rice
exporters under bilateral and multilateral frameworks. Currently, the two
countries are actively participating in a cooperation framework of the 5 major
rice exporters, namely Thailand,
Vietnam, India, China
Under the Ayayewady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS),
member countries are discussing ACMECS rice cooperation mechanism to increase
the exchange of information and technical assistance. Vietnam and Thailand are also studying suitable
ways and means to enhance bilateral cooperation to secure food security of each
country while protecting the interests of rice producers, traders and consumers.