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Last updated: Wednesday, August 15, 2018


Sharing Same Aspirations, Taking Leadership Role in APEC Efforts

Posted: Monday, October 02, 2017

“As one of the founding members of APEC, Japan has consistently placed great importance on the forum. As a flag bearer of free trade, Japan will continue to take a leadership role in APEC efforts, together with Vietnam that shares the same aspirations,” said Mr Kunio Umeda, Ambassador of Japan to Vietnam. Luong Tuan reports.

APEC is said to be one of the leading multinational economic cooperation mechanisms in the Asia-Pacific and the world. What is your view on how APEC should deal with trade and business issues?
Since its establishment in 1989, APEC has achieved significant results in various areas, including economic growth as well as regional economic integration in the Asia-Pacific region. Currently, APEC’s economic scale accounts for approximately 60 percent of the world’s total GDP (US$44.3 trillion), approximately 50 percent of the world’s trade (US$17.8 trillion), and about 40 percent of the world’s population (2.84 billion people). APEC’s intra-regional trade accounts for approximately 67 per cent of its total trade, surpassing the intra-regional trade ratio of the EU.

In the wake of globalisation, it is our common challenge to ensure that everyone can benefit from globalisation. In order to realize this, we need to expand a free, fair and open market based on rules. In addition, we must take a firm stand against unfair trade practices that distort markets, and fight against protectionism.
Recently, new growth sectors such as services and the digital economy have expanded dramatically, and the situation surrounding global business and trade has also been transformed. In response to these changes, we need global rule-making that could support business activities. Working together on these challenges will help create an environment where SMEs and women will be able to participate in global business activities more easily and will help achieve more inclusive growth.

As one of the founding members of APEC, Japan has consistently placed great importance on the forum. As a flag bearer of free trade, Japan will continue to take a leadership role in APEC efforts, together with Vietnam that shares the same aspirations.

Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong receives Prime Minister Shinzo Abe during the latter’s official visit to Vietnam, January 2017

APEC 2017 focuses on various issues including promoting sustainable, innovative and inclusive growth, deepening regional economic integration; strengthening micro, small and medium enterprises’ competitiveness and innovation in the Digital Age; and enhancing food security and sustainable agriculture in response to climate change. What do you think about the opportunities and challenges which APEC has against the backdrop of these multiple issues?
APEC has taken the lead in tackling new global issues based on its fundamental principles of “open regionalism” and “concerted but voluntary actions”. As can be seen in the case of Information Technology Agreement (ITA expansion negotiation), APEC was the first forum that initiated the discussion and the initiative was later adopted and formalized by the WTO. In this way, APEC has served as an incubator of ideas on various issues.

Other unique characteristics of APEC include that it has an institutional mechanism where it listens to the real voices of the business community and reflects them in policy making, including through the annual ABAC Dialogue with the Leaders and Industry Dialogues.

These characteristics will continue to keep APEC relevant as an international framework.

How do you assess Vietnam’s contributions to APEC since it joined the forum? What is your opinion about Vietnam chairing APEC 2017?
After joining APEC in 1998, Vietnam hosted APEC for the first time in 2006, and this is the second time for Vietnam to play host to the APEC. Japan highly evaluates Vietnam’s foregoing efforts to lead international discussions.

Vietnam has led the discussions in various fields, which had helped form the basis of many key issues on the current APEC agenda. For example, 2006 Vietnam APEC was a remarkable year with the concept of the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific (FTAAP) germinated at the Economic Leaders’ meeting.
This year as well, Vietnam proposes several important initiatives such as E-commerce, human resource development, and economic, fiscal and social inclusiveness. Vietnam is also leading the discussions on the 2020 Bogor Goals.

We believe that it is important for Vietnam, as one of the Asia’s emerging and fastest growing economies, to make visionary and forward-looking proposals. Japan will continue to extend full cooperation and assistance to Vietnam for the success of APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in November this year.

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