An exclusive forum of ASEAN, and for ASEAN people

In the press interview prior to the ASEAN Future Forum (AFF), Deputy Foreign Minister Do Hung Viet underscored the Forum’s focus on ASEAN, ASEAN centrality, and ASEAN’s people-centered approach in policy decisions – all of which make the AFF stand out among international forums.

What is the biggest difference between the ASEAN Future Forum and other international forums such as the Shangri-La Dialogue, the Future of Asia, and the Raisina Dialogue? What can we expect from the AFF?

This is a question we have been asking ourselves and pondering ever since the birth of the AFF ideal. The shortest answer lies in the key word “ASEAN” within the forum’s name “ASEAN Future Forum”. Other forums cover different topics, contents, different geographical locations and attract different participants. We have not seen a forum addressing the topic of ASEAN aligned with the goal of enhancing ASEAN centrality. As such, we believe in establishing a new forum dedicated to ASEAN, of ASEAN and for the sake of ASEAN and its people. This is how the ASEAN Future Forum distinguishes itself.

We expect that as an opened and inclusive forum with the participation of governments, businesses, and scholars, the Forum will create a foundation for all parties to share new and creative opinions. These opinions could then be considered and studied by leaders of ASEAN member states for the building of ASEAN strategies and visions in the future, bringing about tangible benefits for the people of ASEAN.

An exclusive forum of ASEAN, and for ASEAN people
Deputy Foreign Minister Do Hung Viet. (Photo: WVR)

Could you name some of the leaders, experts, scholars, and businesses that will partake in the AFF?

To date, the Organizer has received registrations from nearly 400 delegates and affirmations of participation from a large number of speakers including high-ranking government leaders and ministerial leaders from ASEAN countries. Notably, we will welcome Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh, Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone of Lao PDR – ASEAN Chair 2024, Foreign Minister of Indonesia Retno Marsudi, Foreign Minister of Brunei Erywan Yusof, and ASEAN Secretary General Kao Kim Hourn. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim and Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin will deliver video messages to the Forum.

In addition, many leading regional and international scholars have also confirmed their attendance. This includes the affirmation of well-known former officials such as former Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa and former Singaporean Foreign Minister George Yeo. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair will send a video message to the forum. Various scholars from all ASEAN countries and ASEAN dialogue partners will attend the Forum.

In the inaugural year of the Forum, we are delighted to receive widespread attention and applaud from high-level leaders and prestigious experts and scholars in ASEAN and partner countries.

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How will the outcome of the AFF 2024 be disseminated to the leaders and people of ASEAN?

The great number of participants from various tracks at the ASEAN Future Forum as I mentioned above is one important way to spread the Forum’s messages among ASEAN people. Particularly, I hope that the press and media will also play a role in widely reporting the Forum’s outcomes to the government leaders and people of ASEAN.

We plan to compile a summary of opinions and statements from the Forum to be forwarded through ASEAN’s official channels to senior ASEAN officials, Foreign Ministers, specialized Ministers, and senior ASEAN leaders.

Additionally, we aim to submit a joint proposal from ASEAN to the United Nations as ASEAN’s contribution to the UN Summit of the Future scheduled for September. Furthermore, on the Forum’s website, we have opened the “Voice of ASEAN People” section with the hope of receiving contributions from people of all walks of life across ASEAN on the Forum’s discussion topics.

How will cooperation in trade and investment be showcased at the AFF? What opportunities will be provided for participating businesses?

With the theme “Toward fast and sustainable growth of a people-centered ASEAN Community”, the Forum will welcome some leading businesses in Viet Nam and the region. For rapid and sustainable development, inputs from businesses will have important implications for issues related to economic, investment and trade cooperation.

An exclusive forum of ASEAN, and for ASEAN people
ASEAN Foreign Ministers Retreat at Luang Prabang, Lao. (Photo: Quang Hoa)

Beside plenary sessions, we will organize a thematic session for businesses with the topic of seizing development opportunities amid the current digital transformation. This session will be co-chaired by Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh and Lao Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone, with the participation of several experts in this field as well as many businesses from Viet Nam, ASEAN and partner countries.

I believe this will be a valuable opportunity for businesses to exchange and share about the difficulties they are facing, as well as the advantages and opportunities they can harness in the context of digital transformation. With great networking opportunities, businesses can collaborate in utilizing digital tools for their operations.

What do the Forum’s topics mean for ASEAN given many difficulties and challenges facing the region and the world? What is the significance of this event in affirming Viet Nam role within ASEAN?

The pursuit of fast, sustainable, and people-centered development is a shared concern within both ASEAN and the global community, I believe. This goal represents a fundamental and indispensable necessity for ASEAN, given the numerous economic challenges and non-traditional security threats we are confronting, including climate change, natural disasters, epidemics, and supply chain disruptions. Therefore, the Forum will focus on the harmonized goals of development and environmental protection, climate change mitigation, social security assurance, and placing people at the forefront of all development decisions at both the national and regional levels.

For Viet Nam, the Forum is the largest multilateral event we are hosting in 2024. Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh’s initiation of the AFF once again showcases Viet Nam’s proactiveness and its aspiration to make significant contributions to regional cooperation while reinforcing Viet Nam’s core and leading role in both regional and global cooperation. I am confident in the success of this Forum and its potential to set the momentum for future Forums in the years to come.

On this occasion, I highly appreciate the preparation and close coordination of relevant agencies in organizing, facilitating the delegates’ participation, managing logistics and the press, so that we can be assured in the success of this important event.

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