Vietnam has an important role in fostering the development of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), affirmed ASEAN Secretary General Le Luong Minh.
Minh made the statement in an interview with Vietnam News Agency reporters on the occasion of the bloc’s 50th founding anniversary (August 8).
He told reporters that when ASEAN was established in 1967, it mainly focused on security-related issues.
Economics cooperation began in the 1970s, while economic integration began in 1990 with the signing of an agreement on the ASEAN free trade area.
Notably, in 2007, a roadmap to establish the ASEAN Economic Community was improved. Since then, the bloc has been successful in economic cooperation, Minh said, adding that the region is an attractive destination for foreign investors.
Since joining ASEAN, Vietnam has stepped up cooperation with other member states and integrated more deeply into the global value chain.
With its participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, negotiations for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and signing of free trade agreements with the European Union and the Eurasian Economic Union, Vietnam can take advantage of the bloc’s collective strength, while trade and investment between the country and the bloc will also grow rapidly, he added.
The Secretary General also mentioned challenges facing the bloc.
According to him, the biggest challenge is a large development gap in the region. At present, average GDP of the richest country is 43 times higher than that of the poorest.
Non-tariff barriers are hampering the region’s trade development, he stated.
Also, ASEAN has an economic policy of supporting trade liberalisation and globalisation, while some major global economies are trending towards protectionism, he added.
He suggested Vietnamese enterprises learn about the opportunities and challenges of the country’s integration into ASEAN to take advantage of the opportunities and overcome the challenges.
According to him, during 2006-2016, Vietnam’s proportion in ASEAN’s GDP doubled from 3.5 percent to 7 percent.
Investments by ASEAN member states in Vietnam also rose 120 percent./.