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May 10, 2023 / 17:16

Solidarity crucial for independent, self-reliant ASEAN: PM

The Prime Minister underscored the urgency of the expansion of the single market as a means of promoting sustainable development and economic recovery.

Strengthening solidarity and unity among ASEAN member states is the primary goal for ASEAN to become independent and strong, said Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh at the opening session of the 42nd ASEAN Summit in Labuan Bajo, Indonesia, today [May 10].

 ASEAN leaders at the opening session of the 42nd Summit. Photos: Nhat Bac

Chinh congratulated Indonesia and President Joko Widodo on assuming the role of ASEAN chair in 2023.

While acknowledging ASEAN's bright economic prospects, he also noted the increasing complexity of the internal and external challenges facing the bloc.

In this regard, Chinh identified three core issues determining ASEAN's identity, values, vitality, and prestige: maintaining independence, strategic autonomy, and achieving economic growth through outreach and adaptability to external changes.

The Prime Minister stressed the importance of solidarity as an invincible strength that must be demonstrated through concrete actions. Therefore, he emphasized the importance of consolidating solidarity and unity as the primary task for ASEAN's resilience and independence.

In the current global economic landscape characterized by potential risks and uncertainties, Chinh underscored the urgency of expanding the Single Market to promote sustainable development and recovery.

The Vietnamese Prime Minister proposed concerted efforts to negotiate and upgrade the ASEAN Trade in Goods Agreement and significant investment in institutional, infrastructure, and people-to-people connectivity projects to improve the investment, business, and tourism environment throughout the region.

He also suggested promoting cooperation in the digital economy, digital government, and circular economy and developing renewable energy and power grid connectivity.

"The long-term strategies should also be developed to train high-quality human resources, including implementing mutual recognition agreements for various professions," Chinh said.

Emphasizing ASEAN's people-centered spirit as the driving force for community building, the Prime Minister stressed the importance of narrowing the development gap, especially in remote and isolated areas.

"Sub-regional cooperation should be integrated with ASEAN's cooperation programs in all sectors to create more opportunities and ensure a better life for the people," he added.

While acknowledging the existence of challenges and difficulties, the Prime Minister urged ASEAN to remain steadfast and grow stronger.

To achieve the goals of peace, security, stability, and prosperity, he called on ASEAN members to come together in solidarity and self-reliance and harness resources for development and innovation. This would enable ASEAN to become a growth center for the region and the world by generating breakthrough ideas for community building.

In his opening remarks, Indonesian President Joko Widodo assessed the current ASEAN Summit against the backdrop of an incomplete global economic recovery, increasing strategic competition among major powers, and unpredictable volatility.

He questioned ASEAN's ability to respond and adapt to these challenges. The President emphasized the importance of solidarity and cooperative efforts among all ASEAN members to promote regional peace and growth.

To establish ASEAN as a true driver of regional and global development, he suggested prioritizing economic integration, inclusive cooperation, and effective implementation of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), as well as ensuring food security, energy self-reliance, and financial stability.

 Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh at the summit. 
Making the ASEAN Community people-centered

During the ASEAN Summit, Secretary-General of ASEAN Kao Kim Hourn reported that progress had been made in building the ASEAN Community, with positive outcomes across all three pillars. With the reopening of countries, gradual recovery, and improved self-reliance, 2022 is expected to be a turning point for the regional economy, with significant contributions from manufacturing, transportation, and tourism.

Regional growth is expected to be sustained, with a forecast of 4.7%. However, ASEAN faces potential challenges and risks, including geopolitical fluctuations, which have prompted the organization to adjust its strategy and harness new momentum through initiatives such as the Circular Economy Framework, the Central Strategy, Carbon Neutrality, the ASEAN Digital Economy Framework Agreement, and the ASEAN One Health Initiative.

ASEAN leaders expressed their support for the theme "ASEAN Matters: Epicenter of Growth," which underscores the importance of ASEAN as a driver of regional and global economic growth. They pledged to accelerate economic integration within ASEAN, increase intra-ASEAN trade and investment, enhance supply chain connectivity, and strengthen capacity to ensure financial stability, food security, and energy security.

Leaders emphasized the importance of making the ASEAN a truly people-centered and directed specialized community to respond proactively and effectively to opportunities and challenges. They also adopted the key elements of the ASEAN Community Vision Beyond 2025, which outlines stronger and more worthy development goals for the next 20 years.

They also stressed that solidarity and cooperation will continue to be promoted to make ASEAN more resilient and adaptable in a changing world.

In addition, ASEAN leaders approved 10 documents to guide cooperation in various areas, including the Joint Statement on the Vision of the ASEAN Community Beyond 2025, the development of the electric vehicle ecosystem in the region, and the ASEAN One Health Initiative. Other initiatives included promoting regional payment connectivity and enhancing local currency transactions.