Sustaining ASEAN's successful story for the future

Director General of ASEAN Department, MOFA, Mr. Tran Duc Binh, has shared about the unceasing efforts and contributions of Viet Nam to ASEAN’s growth and prosperity, including the ASEAN Future Forum (AFF).
Sustaining ASEAN's successful story for the future
Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh speaks at the ASEAN Business & Investment Summit (ASEAN BIS) in Jakarta, Indonesia on September 4, 2023. (Photo: WVR)

What is your assessment on Viet Nam’s cooperation with ASEAN members in building ASEAN Community over the past years?

With the motto of being “proactive, active and responsible”, during the past years, Viet Nam has holistically and intensively engaged in ASEAN cooperation, thus contributing significantly to the building of ASEAN Community. These engagements have also strengthened unity, cohesion, and ASEAN centrality, at the same time connecting ASEAN to its partners, expanding ASEAN’s external relations, and enhancing ASEAN’s profile and prestige in the region and the world.

At the outset, the cooperation within and the building of ASEAN Community are propelled by Viet Nam’s socio-economic achievements, political stability, and the leadership with region-wide and global vision. The vibrancy of Vietnamese business environment and the vitality of its people also played an important part.

Viet Nam has pioneered in implementing ASEAN’s priorities and fulfilled its commitments in the building of ASEAN Community. In the Economic Community, Viet Nam has actively participated in the process of ASEAN Connectivity and was among the countries with high performance in implementing the ASEAN Economic Community Blueprint.

Sustaining ASEAN's successful story for the future
Director General of ASEAN Department, MOFA, Mr. Tran Duc Binh. (Photo: WVR)

Notably, despite the Covid-19 pandemic, Viet Nam has successfully enabled the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) – the largest global trade agreement led by ASEAN, attracting the participation of many major economies in the world.

Viet Nam are one of the spearheads of ASEAN’s cultural and social cooperation. The country has effectively implemented cooperation programs and put forward concrete initiatives, thereby promoting cooperation within ASEAN in numerous fields such as labor, education, women empowerment, and children development. Viet Nam has also played a trailblazing role in bolstering regional connectivity and responding to newly emerging issues including climate change and biodiversity.

Viet Nam has hosted many activities within the ASEAN Political-Security Community Blueprint. The country has actively joined consultation activities and coordinated actions with other members to effectively resolve issues that affect peace, security, and stability in the region. Viet Nam’s proposals and initiatives in ASEAN forums namely the ARF and ADMM+ were welcomed by ASEAN’s partners, thus enhancing trust and the capacity to address non-traditional security challenges.

Furthermore, Viet Nam has actively fostered cooperation between ASEAN and its partners. As the coordinator of ASEAN’s relations with many important partners, Viet Nam has become the bridge between the two sides to advance ASEAN’s external relations. These efforts have garnered praise and endorsement from partner countries, while raising ASEAN’s positions in the international arena.

With the Chairmanship in 1998, 2010 and 2020, Viet Nam decisively led the Association in implementing ASEAN’s priorities and effectively tackled challenges. Particularly in 2020, Viet Nam presided over and worked with ASEAN members to effectively responded to Covid-19, ensured social security, and promote sustainable recovery.

Initiatives proposed by Viet Nam such as the Covid-19 ASEAN Response Fund, the Ha Noi Plan of Action on Strengthening ASEAN Economic Cooperation and Supply Chain Connectivity, and the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework have become the shared and important assets and have been widely deployed within ASEAN.

What is the significance of the AFF initiative for ASEAN as it approaches the milestone of ASEAN beyond 2025?

The AFF initiative announced by Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh will be conducted as ASEAN is completing its 2025 Vision and defining ASEAN Community Vision 2045.

Throughout sessions on the theme “Toward fast and sustainable growth of a people-centered ASEAN Community”, the Future Forum will provide a channel for leaders, policy makers, and experts of ASEAN and its partners to discuss and find solutions for ASEAN facing global trends and challenges. Most importantly, the forum will propose breakthrough and innovative policy recommendations for ASEAN’s development, connectivity, and cooperation.

ASEAN bases its vision in the next 20 years on three major directions – maintaining ASEAN’s core values and fostering ASEAN centrality, building a Southeast Asian region of peace, stability, and sustainable development, and positioning ASEAN at the center of the world’s economy. Global trends require ASEAN to renew its mindset and ideals for more innovative actions so that the Association could leapfrog to truly become the epicenter of peace, cooperation, and development. Against this backdrop, the AFF will support and contribute to the building of the ASEAN Community Vision 2045, toward a resilient, dynamic, creative, and people-centered ASEAN.

Since its inception as an idea, the Forum has received the attention and support from ASEAN members and partners, not only in the form of resources but more importantly in the affirmation of participation from country leaders such as Prime Minister of Laos – Chair of ASEAN 2024, Prime Minister of Malaysia – Chair of ASEAN 2025, Secretary General of the United Nations, Secretary General of ASEAN, and renowned researchers and scholars in the region. This has shown the interest and expectations for the forum, especially the solutions that will be discussed and proposed through the forum.

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What message do such initiatives carry about Viet Nam’s efforts to contribute to ASEAN’s development journey?

After nearly three decades as an ASEAN member, Viet Nam has clearly created the image of a proactive, positive, and responsible member who has been doing its best for the Association. Faced with the strategic requirements for ASEAN and the region, Viet Nam wishes to make more substantive and effective contributions to the development of ASEAN Community.

The AFF is a testament to these endeavors, with the expectation of creating opportunities for widespread exchange on breakthrough solutions for ASEAN cooperation and connectivity. The throughout message that Viet Nam wants to convey through the Forum is the spirit of cohesion, companionship, and the joint effort with ASEAN to sustain ASEAN successful story in the future.

First, we talk about the story of a resilient and responsive ASEAN. Through the nearly 60-year arc of progress, ASEAN has become a model of success, playing an indispensable role in peace, security, and development in the region. In the face of complex and unpredictable changes, ASEAN is required to maintain the momentum of cooperation based on its principles and core values in order to meet the needs and concerns of member countries.

Second, let’s move to the story of ASEAN’s dynamic and sustainable development. In recent years, ASEAN’s stature has been a key word of interest thanks to the Association’s efforts to overcome challenges and bounce back strongly after the pandemic.

Building on that success, it is important for ASEAN to grasp and master the robust trends of green, digital, and sustainable growth. The topic chosen by the Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh for this forum is the prompt response to the concerns of ASEAN, the region, and the international community. We also expect that exchanges at the forum will add more voices and motivation to the UN Summit of the Future in September 2024.

The last and not least important story is about a people-centered ASEAN. It can be said that Viet Nam has made an important contribution to turning this viewpoint into the overarching direction of the ASEAN Community Vision 2045. At ASEAN Conferences at all levels and cooperation channels, Viet Nam has consistently and strongly demonstrated the spirit of “considering the people as the center, the goal, and the driving force of the Community building process”.

The Future forum is expected to continue with more in-depth and thorough discussions to realize the goal of inclusive development, serving the practical interests of people, businesses, and localities.

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