ASEAN: Việt Nam excellent as ASEAN Chair despite pandemic: Japanese expert

Hiroyuki Moribe, director of the Vietnam Economic Research Institute




Việt Nam was successful in accomplishing its role as ASEAN Chair 2020 despite facing unimaginable challenges brought about by the global spread of the novel coronavirus, Hiroyuki Moribe, director of the Vietnam Economic Research Institute (VERI), told the Vietnam News Agency.

How do you evaluate the role of ASEAN Chair of Việt Nam this year? What are the successes of Việt Nam in ASEAN 2020, especially in the economic field?

I think that Việt Nam has successfully completed the ASEAN Chairmanship 2020 role, especially when the impact of the acute respiratory infections COVID-19 is beyond imagination.

First of all, Việt Nam has quickly controlled the COVID-19 pandemic in the country, closely monitored disease outbreaks in many countries in the region and hosted the ASEAN Summit. There are many options for organising high-level conferences such as face-to-face meetings or online hosting.

After discussions with other countries in the region and partners, in the end, Việt Nam chose to host the ASEAN Summit in an online form. This was a good response of Việt Nam in the complicated situation of COVID-19 pandemic.

As Chairman of ASEAN 2020, Việt Nam has a huge responsibility in leading ASEAN to come up with solutions to many important issues, and I think that Việt Nam has successfully fulfilled its responsibility.

In addition, I also think that many countries also appreciate Việt Nam’s coordination capacity and management ability in organising the ASEAN Summit, with the participation of many big countries such as Japan, Korea, China.

The rapid outbreak of the COVID-19 caused many countries to implement the policy of “nation first,” Việt Nam has successfully completed its role commercially while maintaining continuously the operation of the production supply chains and promoting the signing of free trade agreements.

Thanks to its success as the Chair of ASEAN 2020, in the future, Vietnam may attract more foreign investment.

The international community is also very attentive when the number of cases of COVID-19 in Việt Nam is very small and this will contribute to promoting more development in other areas, apart from investment.

Many experts believe that one of the greatest successes of Việt Nam in ASEAN 2020 is promoting ASEAN and its partner countries to sign RCEP – a trade agreement formed on the basis of ASEAN initiatives. What should ASEAN do to maintain a central role in the RCEP and not let this agreement be dominated by major countries?

RCEP was signed without India’s participation. China and India are both big markets, with large populations, so if India becomes a member of the RCEP, it will be easier for ASEAN countries to control this agreement in many matters. In this regard, I think that calling for India to return to the RCEP will bring great benefits to ASEAN countries.

The RCEP is the world’s largest regional comprehensive economic partnership agreement. Although at present, the US and China are competing fiercely, but in the future, China’s market share will increase and influence more and more ASEAN countries, including Việt Nam.

In this respect, I think it is extremely important that ASEAN countries remain engaged with China.

In the future, ASEAN countries will deploy the contents of RCEP. I hope Việt Nam and other ASEAN countries will work closely with the Government of Japan to create a free trade agreement that is more beneficial for ASEAN.

RCEP is the largest economic agreement in the world, if RCEP establishes the same headquarters as APEC based in Singapore, the capital Hà Nội of Việt Nam could be a good choice.

In the future, what should ASEAN do to cope with an increasingly complex international environment due to geopolitical competition among great powers and the emergence of destabilising factors such as the COVID-19 pandemic?

One of the advantages of ASEAN is solidarity, and that has been shown at the recent ASEAN Summit.

Along with China, ASEAN is an economic centre that maintains high growth and attracts the attention of many countries. I have heard that a lot of countries, including the UK, want to be ASEAN partners.

In the future, along with the US and China, ASEAN needs to be more proactive to come up with solutions to problems on a global scale as the economic development centre of the world.

On the other hand, carbon reduction and digital transformation are becoming a trend all over the world. Therefore, in the future, ASEAN should further strengthen cooperation with Japan, China and South Korea in this regard to assert its leading role. The linkage with major countries and solidarity and unity will create the influence of ASEAN. VNS



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