ASEAN Sub-regional Cooperation for Sustainable Development and Inclusive Growth

6:56:23 AM | 12/8/2021

Along with ASEAN's accelerated and expanded regional integration, it is of special significance to align and ensure sub-regions to keep up with overall regional development.

At the ASEAN High-level Forum on Sub-regional Cooperation on Sustainable Development and Inclusive Growth held on November 30 in Hanoi, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh pointed out three priorities to promote sub-regional cooperation. First, people are the actor, center, goal and driver of development. The next priority is to strengthen regional and international cooperation for capacity building and sustainable development in sub-regions. ASEAN countries, partners, especially developed countries, regional and international organizations and the business community need to actively support and provide financial assistance and technology transfer for developing countries in sub-regions in order to conserve natural resources and effectively respond to challenges. The third priority emphasizes strengthening of infrastructure, economic and cultural connectivity to fill the development divide, facilitate people's lives and economic development in sub-regions.

Remarks delivered by Prime Minister Chinh are also consistent with common concerns and opinions of many delegates at the forum. Agreed key cooperation contents include fostering connectivity, economic integration, green growth, disaster response, climate change, digital transformation, human resource development and tourism development.

Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son stressed that sub-regional development plays an important role in ASEAN construction and international integration. Therefore, ASEAN should consider promoting coherence and centrality to bridge the gap, utilizing natural resources and community diversity for sustainable and inclusive development. ASEAN members are all committed to bolstering sub-regional cooperation and towards equitable socio-economic growth in the region. At the same time, he highly appreciated commitments to necessary support and continued cooperation of ASEAN’s important partners and the international community.

Mr. Pham Tan Cong, President of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), said ASEAN is facing unprecedented difficulties caused by COVID-19, adversely affecting all countries, all businesses and all people in the region. Nevertheless, the pandemic is also an opportunity for regional and sub-regional development, for developing countries to close the gap with developed countries as well as promote sustainable and inclusive growth.

“This is a good time for countries in the region to focus on infrastructure development and digital transformation. Digitization boosts regional interconnectivity and bridges the divide among economies,” he emphasized.

VCCI President Cong highly appreciated the attraction of external resources because infrastructure and digital transformation projects require huge investment funds. Moreover, to make these projects effective, active participation of businesses and especially of private businesses need to be encouraged.

Besides, VCCI President Cong underlined that today's development and growth trends cannot be separated from sustainability and green factors, and at the same time welcomed business incentive policies aiming at green and sustainable environment, and care delivered to vulnerable groups such as women, ethnic minorities and startups.

“VCCI has been playing a very active role in this process - by organizing the Annual National Conference on Sustainable Development, the Corporate Sustainability Index (CSI) and cooperating with international organizations to carry out business support projects and programs toward green and sustainable growth,” he added.

At the forum, the report released by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) also highlighted the role of sub-regional economic corridors in enhancing regional economic connectivity and linkage; smoothly and effectively linking sub-regional cooperation frameworks and ASEAN's common development plans, especially in the context of accelerating recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic and achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Delegates highly appreciated Vietnam's role and contribution in enhancing development cooperation in sub-regions, narrowing the development gap and equitable and sustainable development in ASEAN. The proposals and recommendations at the forum are expected to be integrated and reported to ASEAN senior leaders for consideration and direction.

By Huong Ly, Vietnam Business Forum