International economic integration - a bright spot in Vietnam’s foreign affairs in 2020

Friday, 2021-01-08 11:19:17
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Vietnam has completed negotiations over a bilateral FTA with the UK, an important partner in Europe. (Photo: Foreign Ministry)
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NDO – On the occasion of the New Year, Permanent Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Bui Thanh Son granted the media an interview on the results of Vietnam’s international economic integration in 2020 and orientations for the new period.

Following is the full text of the interview.

Q: How do you evaluate the highlights of international economic linkages in 2020 and their impacts on Vietnam’s international economic integration?

A: In 2020, the world economy and international economic linkages evolved complicatedly with a lot of risks and a mixture of “bright” and “dark” colours. Despite posing many new challenges, the COVID-19 pandemic further deepened the linkage trends that have been occurring in recent years, while accelerating a number of new trends.

First of all, international economic linkages continued to be extensively promoted, with the signing and implementation of free trade agreements (FTAs); the facilitation of the negotiation and signing of deals on new issues such as digital economy and e-commerce; and the development and adoption of long-term cooperation directions. Secondly, the connotations of economic cooperation and linkages were deeply adjusted in association with sustainable and inclusive development and digitisation. Thirdly, the trends of adjusting supply chains and shifting investment and business activities were furthered, but it was not at all easy nor simple.

This situation had multidimensional impacts on Vietnam, especially as the country enters a period of extensive integration and connection. The proactive and active participation in international economic links enabled Vietnam to continue to diversify its markets and partners, attract resources for development, and take advantage of current major trends, especially in the Asia-Pacific region, in order to recover and grow quickly and sustainably. The assumption of the roles as ASEAN Chair 2020, Chair of the ASEAN Inter-Parliamentary Assembly (AIPA) 2020 and non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council for 2020-2021 helped Vietnam to promote its voice in multilateral frameworks and join partners in the process of shaping structures and building economic and commercial laws that are suitable for common interests.

Q: Looking back at 2020, it can be said that international economic integration is one of the bright spots of Vietnam’s foreign affairs implementation. How do you comment on this statement?

A: In 2020, Vietnam overcame multiple difficulties and challenges and achieved many outstanding development and foreign affairs achievements that were praised by international friends. Important progress was made in the process of international economic integration, making the country one of the pioneers in the region in terms of promoting and participating in international economic links, as well as taking advantage of external resources to serve national development.

Vietnam actively mobilised and coordinated with the European Union (EU) to complete the ratification of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) and put the deal into effect on August 1, 2020. In addition, we signed the minutes on the conclusion of negotiations over a bilateral FTA with the UK (UKVFTA), aimed at stepping up economic, trade and investment relations between the two countries.

As the Chair of ASEAN in 2020, Vietnam coordinated with ASEAN member states and partners to promote the signing of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), thus affirming the determination to maintain cooperation and linking momentum, consolidating trust, and creating a driving force for regional economic recovery. Vietnam also proactively promoted the approval of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Vision 2040 along with many important initiatives on COVID-19 response and the revitalisation of regional supply chains.

With the progress made in 2020 and the results of implementing international economic integration over the years, Vietnam has basically shaped a network of 17 FTAs and economic and trade cooperation frameworks with the world’s leading economic hubs. This position will motivate the country to achieve growth goals, continue with its comprehensive and synchronous reforms, and move forward steadily on the path towards materialising its development visions and aspirations in the new strategic period.

Q: The country is entering a period of extensive economic integration and connection. Could you please share Vietnam’s economic integration orientations in the new period as well as the contributions of the diplomatic sector?

A: Vietnam has entered a period of international economic integration with a completely new position, inspired by the country’s great achievements after 35 years of Doi Moi (Reform) and 25 years of international integration since its ASEAN admission.

To fully utilise and uphold the obtained results and elevate its participation and role, Vietnam will need to focus on a number of orientations, including giving priority to the effective implementation of commitments in the FTAs and the economic cooperation mechanisms to which Vietnam is a signatory. In addition, it is also necessary for the country to continue improving and expanding the network of bilateral and multilateral economic integration and links with partners and organisations around the world. Moreover, Vietnam should proactively participate in the process of shaping the regional structure and building economic governance frameworks and regulations at the regional, inter-regional and global levels, as well as contributing effectively and responsibly to resolving shared issues.

During the glorious 75-year journey of the diplomatic sector, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has made significant and practical contributions to the cause of national socio-economic development and international integration. In the new strategic period, under the leadership of the Party and State, the diplomatic sector will continue to play a pioneering role in creating a peaceful and favourable environment for the enhancement of the country’s development and position. Economic diplomacy for development will continue to be a vital task. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will continue to make use of and promote the country’s potentials, role and position to contribute to the successful realisation of development guidelines, policies and goals.

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