(Ha Noi, Viet Nam, 16 May 2017)
Ladies and gentlemen,
On behalf of the State and people of Viet Nam, I wish to welcome all participants in this Multi-stakeholder Dialogue on APEC toward 2020 and Beyond. It is an honor for Viet Nam to host APEC for the second time, thereby contributing to the development of the premier economic forum in the Asia – Pacific, an organization that accounts for 39% of the world’s population, 57% of its GDP, and 49% of global trade.
Six months ago in Peru, APEC leaders and I agreed to start a process of reflection on APEC post-2020 vision. Today’s Dialogue is an important step towards the realization of that process. Developing APEC’s vision will require the concentration of our intellect, extensive cooperation and passion. The very diverse audience of stakeholders, ranging from the public to private sectors, academics, women and youths present here today will help shape APEC’s future.
Over the course of 28 years of development, and 23 years of realization of the Bogor Goals of free and open trade and investment, APEC has recorded numerous important achievements in economic development of the region. The efforts by APEC in realizing its three pillars: trade and investment liberalization, business facilitation, and economical-technical cooperation have had a positive impact on regional economic growth. From 2000 to 2015, APEC trade grew by 2.5 folds, from 6.4 trillion USD to 16.5 trillion USD; tariff on average had been slashed by half, from 11% in 1996 down to just 5% in 2015. These are animated statistics that attest to the success and important role played by APEC over the past 30 years to help millions out of poverty.
As APEC soon enters its fourth decade, the world is undergoing profound and rapid changes. We have all agreed to pursue the Sustainable Development Goals to 2030. The Fourth Industrial Revolution, particularly digital technology, has fundamentally changed the global economic landscape. While technology is further connecting mankind and opening up new development opportunities, it also brings no few challenges. Extensive economic integration and shifts in technologies, particularly automation and artificial intelligence, are revamping industries much faster than economies can adapt. A burgeoning middle-class and aging demographics also present new requirements for growth and regional economic integration.
In this new context of development, APEC businesses and people, from mega corporations to millions of MSMEs are asking questions that must be genuinely addressed: What has APEC done, and what will it do for them? These questions are even more urgent as the region faces slow and uncertain recovery, inequality, and the widening wealth gaps among and within economies which risk undoing the socio-economic progress that we have achieved.
Looking toward 2020, accelerating the realization of the Bogor Goals is even more important given the growing doubts about the benefits of globalization and free trade. Globalization is an inevitable and irreversible trend. However, we can take part in giving it shape to be more people-centered, inclusive and sustainable. More than ever, now is the time for APEC economies to send a strong message affirming their continued commitment to open markets, deepened regional economic integration, and support for a new, more advanced process of globalization. In addition, developing a post-2020 vision can help give shape to APEC’s values and role in the evolving regional economic and global architecture.
The key to APEC’s success today is to place people and businesses at the center of development. We need to promote sustainable, inclusive and innovative growth, allowing all segments of society to participate in and enjoy the fruits of development and shared prosperity. At the same time, we should better communicate the benefits of globalization, of free trade and investment to the public, and jointly develop a more sustainable growth model. By definition:
Growth cannot be sustainable unless it is economically, financially or socially inclusive.
Growth will not be sustainable unless economic restructuring, improving innovation and competitiveness of the economy and businesses are promoted.
Growth will not be sustainable unless we address the increasingly negative impacts of climate change, natural disasters, and social and economic challenges.
APEC should pay particular attention to promoting education and training, developing high quality human resources, and implement proactive and positive social policies and solutions to ensure that all members of society can actively take part in and benefit from the technological revolution in the digital age. Viet Nam’s own socio-economic success over the last thirty years and our development strategies for the future are also in line with this goal.
APEC should respond to changes in the region and the world. Its track record over the past three decades testifies to responsiveness and resilience of APEC. The 1997-1998 Asian financial crisis and the 2008-2009 global financial crisis did not make APEC falter. They made even more pronounced the Forum’s role in leading growth and economic integration trends in the region and the world. Following up on previous years, with the theme “Creating new dynamism, fostering a shared future”, Viet Nam and APEC economies are heading in the right direction in their efforts to promote restructuring, quality growth, increased connectivity, development of global value chains, trade, investment and services liberalization, human resources development and capacity building.
Over the next two to three decades, APEC will need to showcase its vitality, dynamism, resilience and relevance. APEC needs to assume its global leadership role in addressing regional and global challenges, particularly climate change, aging population, income inequality, natural hazards including disasters and epidemics…
In order to turn this into reality, APEC will need to play need to play on its strength as a voluntary, flexible cooperation forum to truly be an incubator of ideas, innovation, and engine for growth and regional economic integration. APEC must be the common thread for various regional cooperation mechanisms to foster increasingly effective regional and global economic integration. For its part, ASEAN, with 50 years of experience in integration, has much to share with APEC in fostering an increasingly connected socio-economic community.
At our important Dialogue today, I ask that we engage in in-depth discussions to clarify the following:
First, specific measures and areas of cooperation to accelerate the realization of the Bogor Goals by 2020.
Second, APEC’s goals and timeframe for the post-2020 period as well as its cooperation pillars.
Third, steps that should be taken to develop a post-2020 vision for APEC.
Eleven years ago, in this same Convention Center, APEC Leaders endorsed the Hanoi Action Plan to implement the Busan Roadmap towards the Bogor Goals comprising specific measures and schedules. Since then, APEC has continually strived to realize the Bogor Goals. Let’s do our best so that the future of the 21st century begins from the Asia – Pacific, an economically dynamic, socially inclusive community that is secure and stable, and truly people-and-business-centric.
To conclude, allow me to wish our Dialogue a success, expand on ideas and measures to develop APEC post-2020 vision, and feed into the success of the APEC Economic Leaders’ Week in Da Nang this coming November.
I thank you.