Business Connectivity for Developed ASEAN

2:33:15 PM | 7/24/2020

In 2020, the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) is assuming the chairmanship of the ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN BAC), whose main task is to foster public-private partnership towards the integration and strengthening of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC); provide private sector feedback on ASEAN economic cooperation; and recommend priority areas to ASEAN leaders. VCCI and ASEAN BAC members have developed business recommendations and held dialogues with the ASEAN Economic Ministers and High-ranking Leaders throughout 2020.

At the press conference introducing a series of business activities in ASEAN Year 2020 to be chaired by VCCI, VCCI President Vu Tien Loc, Chair of the East Asia Business Council (EABC) cum Chair of ASEAN BIS 2020, said, stemming from the goal for a developed ASEAN community and from the mission of connecting businesses, this year, VCCI has been and will be organizing various outstanding activities, including the Vietnam Business Summit 2020 (VBS 2020).

He said, since the success of the first edition, held in the framework of APEC 2017, with the theme “Vietnam: We mean business”, the summit has continuously affirmed itself as the largest trade and investment promotion forum of Vietnam bringing together more than 1,000 prestigious domestic and foreign companies to seek new business cooperation opportunities. Under the theme for 2020 " Digital Vietnam: Adaptive for sustainable development” to be held on November 12, 2020, VBS 2020 will be an opportunity for investors to learn about Vietnam's economic prospects in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and cooperation potential in Vietnam's strong industries in the current context of global economic slowdown such as logistics, agriculture and information technology services. Government leaders and ministers will deliver keynote speeches to the plenary session and breakout panel sessions.

In addition, VCCI will host the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit 2020 (ASEAN BIS 2020), immediately after the VBS 2020, in Hanoi from November 13-14 2020 with the theme “Digital ASEAN: Sustainable and Inclusive”. As the most anticipated business event of the ASEAN business community, the summit is expected to welcome senior leaders of 10 ASEAN countries and eight ASEAN dialogue countries to give keynote remarks and hold talks with the ASEAN business community to build a developed and sustained ASEAN, overcome pandemic challenges and harness the digital revolution.

Dr. Loc said, this year's meeting will delve into six topics, including ASEAN’s Economic Outlook; Technologies and Future Jobs in ASEAN; Innovative Agriculture; Green Growth through Good Governance; Logistics and Smart City; and Innovative ASEAN and Digital Startups. This will be a good opportunity for Vietnamese and ASEAN businesses to promote their brands, affirm their position in the region and in the international arena, expand cooperation and attract investment, not only from partners in the 10 ASEAN countries but also from ASEAN dialogue partners such as Japan, China, the United States, South Korea, India, Australia, New Zealand, the EU, Russia and Canada.

“2020 is full of challenges for the global business community, including those in ASEAN and Vietnam. During the COVID-19 pandemic, enterprises’ priorities should be inclusive and toward sustainable development, which could be achieved via globalization and digitalization for greater competitiveness, linkage and integration. With the focus on sustainable development and digital transformation, VBS and ASEAN BIS 2020 will serve as an important platform for enterprises to look for business opportunities and grasp new development trends from which they can devise appropriate development strategies,” he added.

VCCI also plays an important role in the cooperation framework between ASEAN and other potential partners, especially the East Asia Business Council (EABC), which was founded in 2004 by ASEAN, China, Japan and South Korea (ASEAN+3) to represent private sector views and feedback. Dr. Vu Tien Loc, President of VCCI, Chairman of EABC 2020, represents Vietnam in this cooperation mechanism.

In 2020, the EABC held two meetings with business leaders from 13 East Asian countries to discuss three key issues, namely Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), digital economy, and micro, small and medium enterprise (MSME) support. The last meeting, held on June 7, 2020, agreed to propose governments speed up negotiations to sign the RCEP and implement the above initiatives, which must be based on the consensus principle of all participating countries, including India - a potential economy and an important partner in the region.

With respect to the digital economy, the gathering agreed to foster private sector cooperation in information sharing, spread good practices, and establish a foundation to promote digital transformation among businesses and in economies. The conference highly appreciated the cooperation of JETRO (Japan) with VCCI in the Digital STARS Project, which aims to build an ASEAN network for startups.

On MSME development, while affirming that MSMEs are the backbone of economies in the region and the main driving force for economic recovery and development, the EABC pledged to further promote the e-book development initiative that guides customs procedures, facilitates trade, promotes e-commerce, and enhances access to credit for the MSME sector. In addition, the EABC also encouraged the establishment of a single-window mechanism that provides legal and market consulting services and encourages MSME innovation platforms.

The EABC planned to open two more meetings in 2020 and hold a direct dialogue with ASEAN+3 Economic Ministers in August 2020 and EABC Chair Vu Tien Loc will report business recommendations to ASEAN+3 Leaders in late 2020.

Dr. Doan Duy Khuong, Vice President of VCCI, Chairman of ASEAN BAC 2020, said, while ASEAN countries and the world as a whole are suffering from severe impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the consumer market is shrinking, manufacturing activity is declining, manpower supply is falling short and value chains are disrupted, ASEAN BAC, chaired by VCCI, put forth ASEAN business proposals and recommendations at the special online conference of ASEAN Economic Ministers on response to COVID-19 on June 4, 2020 in Hanoi.

These suggestions initiated the formation of a special panel on COVID-19 joined by ASEAN senior officials, and an advisory board joined by ASEAN BAC business members, joint ASEAN business associations with partner countries (the UK, the US, the EU, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, China, Japan and South Korea), regional business associations such as the ASEAN Tourism Association and the ASEAN CSR Network. The panel will enable ASEAN to make prompt, effective and timely decisions to respond to emergencies such as epidemics; leverage digital technology to strengthen the capacity of MSMEs and vulnerable industries.

Notably, the ASEAN Woman Entrepreneur Summit 2020 will be organized by Vietnam Women Entrepreneurs Council (VWEC-VCCI) in Hanoi on November 9, 2020, to discuss how to create a favorable business environment to promote women's economic power and gender equality in the ASEAN region; promote development of women-owned businesses; empower women for inclusive development; and improve the competitiveness of women entrepreneurs in ASEAN during the digital age.

In addition, VCCI will hold the ASEAN Business Award 2020 (ABA 2020) and the ASEAN BAC Legacy Project: Digital STARS - ASEAN network of digital startups.

Reportedly, the ASEAN BAC Legacy Project is one of important annual activities of ASEAN BAC to promote priorities of the regional business community. Continuing with the focus on Industry 4.0, chaired by ASEAN BAC Thailand in 2019, ASEAN BAC 2020 emphasizes the development of the digital economy aligned with regional sustainable and inclusive social development. With this goal, ASEAN BAC Vietnam and VCCI have cooperated with Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Group (VNPT) to implement the Digital STARS 2020 Legacy Project, designed to form a network of digital startups among ASEAN countries and promote digitalization, especially among MSMEs, the main driving force in ASEAN.

By Quynh Chi, Vietnam Business Forum