Viet Nam’s 25 years of APEC membership: From a strategic vision to a resilient future

At the threshold of the 2023 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Week, in an interview with media, Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyen Minh Hang affirmed that Viet Nam and APEC economies will discuss major issues facing the world and regional economies today, jointly promoting the trend of dialogue and cooperation, thus contributing to sustainable development and prosperity.

San Francisco is the host city for the APEC Leaders’ Week 2023 with the theme of “Creating a Resilient and Sustainable Future for All.” (Photo: VNA)

From November 14-17, APEC Leaders’ Week will take place in San Fransisco, USA, marking 25 years of Viet Nam’s participation in APEC. Deputy Minister, could you please share on Viet Nam’s contributions to the APEC in the past times?

Looking back at the 25 years of Vietnam’s participating APEC, we can affirm that the decision to join APEC in 1998 was a strategic decision in the country’s international economic integration, laying the foundation for Vietnam’s global integration and contribute to the development of Vietnam as well as the region.

Over the past 25 years, Vietnam has contributed actively, responsibly and effectively to all areas of cooperation, leaving many important imprints in the APEC process. Three outstanding highlights can be emphasized, which are:
First, Vietnam is one of the few economies that has twice been trusted and supported by members to host the APEC Years in 2006 and 2017.

Under the chairmanship of Vietnam, the two APEC Economic Leaders’ Meetings in Ha Noi in 2006 and Da Nang in 2017 were both considered extremely successful, achieving important outcomes with strategic significance for the APEC as well as economic cooperation and integration in the Asia-Pacific region.

At the APEC Year 2006, we made a milestone with the Ha Noi Action Program, aiming to implement Bogor goals on trade and investment liberalization. For the first time, APEC approved the idea of forming an Asia-Pacific Free Trade Area which made an overall orientation for APEC reform.

In the APEC Year 2017, we proposed an initiative to build a new vision of APEC after 2020 and established the APEC Vision Group. This decision has demonstrated Vietnam’s long-term, comprehensive approach, supported and highly appreciated by APEC members, thereby serving as the foundation for APEC to adopt Putrajaya Vision 2040, confirming APEC’s strategic directions, goals and cooperation priorities in the new period.

Second, Vietnam is one of the most active members in proposing cooperative initiatives and projects, with nearly 150 projects, in various fields from human resource development to promoting e-commerce, food security, economic empowerment for women to rural and urban development, ocean waste, response to climate change, etc. On the one hand, these initiatives and projects promote APEC cooperation in accordance with the concerns and interests of its members, while, on the other hand, effectively serve Vietnam’s socio-economic development goals.

Third, we have affirmed our executive role, promoting the implementation of APEC cooperation programs by assuming important positions in the APEC mechanisms. Notably, Vietnam served as Executive Director of the APEC Secretariat, Chairman of the ASEAN group in APEC, Chairman/Vice Chairman of many important committees and working groups of the APEC.

Vietnamese business community has also contributed and actively participated in the APEC Business Advisory Council and the APEC Business Summits.

Looking back on the past 25 years, in closely following the Party’s foreign affairs guidelines, implementing the policy of Vietnam being a friend, a reliable partner and a responsible member of the international community, we have participated in APEC proactively, positively, responsibly and made many contributions to the development of the APEC.

The successes of APEC Year 2006 and APEC Year 2017, along with other important contributions of Vietnam at the Forum, have contributed to enhancing the country’s role, position, and reputation at the international arena, taking full advantage of opportunities and resources from APEC cooperation and other regional economic cooperation, linkage mechanisms to serve the country’s socio-economic development.

Could you please share on the significance and contents of discussion at the 30th APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting?

APEC is currently the leading economic cooperation and integration mechanism in the Asia – Pacific region, accounting for 38% of the population, 62% of GDP and nearly 50% of world trade. This year’s APEC Summit has important significance, reflected in two aspects:

Firstly, this year’s APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting marks exactly 30 years since the first APEC Summit was also held in the US. At that time, economic leaders agreed on a common vision of a community of Asia-Pacific economies for stability, security and prosperity of the people.

Secondly, this year’s APEC Leaders’ Meeting takes place in the context of the world economic situation and international and regional economic links having gone through profound transformation; risks and challenges are intertwined with great opportunities for cooperation and development, traditional and non-traditional security challenges are becoming complicated. Therefore, this is the moment that requires APEC members to strengthen dialogue and cooperation, turning challenges into opportunities for recovery and sustainable development.

With this significance and with the theme of “Creating a Resilient and Sustainable Future for All”, this APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting will focus on evaluating the outcomes of APEC cooperation over the past 30 years, summarizing the achievements, lessons, and values for regional cooperation, thereby determining cooperation directions in the new period with the goal of APEC continuing to affirm its role as the leading forum for economic integration  and cooperation, contributing to peace, cooperation and development of the region and the world.

The Leaders will also discuss major issues facing the world and regional economies today, especially promoting trade and investment cooperation, sustainable and inclusive growth, and strengthening connectivity and regional economic integration, thereby promoting the trend of dialogue and cooperation, contributing to sustainable development and prosperity.

Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyen Minh Hang. (Photo: Anh Son)

How does Vietnam’s participation at this year’s APEC Leaders’ Week contribute to the overall success of the Summit?

At the invitation of US President Joe Biden, President Vo Van Thuong, Spouse and the Vietnamese high-ranking delegation will attend the 2023 APEC Leaders’ Week and have bilateral activities in the US, from November 14-17, 2023.

With the special significance of this year’s APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting and in the context that Vietnam - US relations have continued to develop strongly over time with the two countries establishing a framework of the comprehensive strategic partnership, the President’s trip to attend the APEC Leaders’ Week and engage in bilateral activities in the US have important meaning.

The President will join APEC Leaders in discussing issues of key significance to the world and regional economies, setting out directions for cooperation in trade, investment, science and technology, innovation and many other fields. Vietnam will join with other members to promote the spirit of dialogue, in a constructive and responsible manner, to promote multilateralism, cooperation, and joint action for the sustainable development and prosperity of the region.

The President will attend, deliver speech and have many working sessions at the APEC Business Summit. This is the largest scale event of the business community in the region with the participation of more than 2,000 leaders of leading corporations in the world and the Asia-Pacific region.

Here, the President will convey a strong message to the business community on joining hands to contribute, overcome challenges in the current period and take advantage of opportunities to promote sustainable development of the region as well as each economy, including Vietnamese economy.

With the US, the President’s activities at the APEC Summit and bilateral activities with US leaders and partners, especially in California, will continue to promote bilateral relations in the spirit of the recent Joint Leaders’ Statement on elevating Vietnam-US relations to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, especially in the fields of education and training, science and technology, innovation and connecting regions.

It can be affirmed that the President’s trip to attend the 30th APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting and engage in bilateral activities in the US is one of the important activities in the external affairs program in 2023 of the Party and State leaders, thereby continuing to maintain and strengthen the external environment of peace, stability, and favorable for the development of the country.

By Minh Anh