Working Collaboratively to Forge Prosperous Future for All

8:33:00 AM | 11/30/2023

Against the backdrop of the APEC Economic Leaders' Week 2023 held in San Francisco, the United States, the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) and official members of the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) actively organized a series of significant business events. These events included the 4th Meeting of ABAC, the APEC CEO Summit, a working session between the Vietnamese President and the U.S.- APEC Business Coalition, and ABAC Dialogue with APEC Leaders. Additionally, VCCI coordinated delegations from provinces and businesses to conduct surveys and engage in activities in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

 President Vo Van Thuong addresses Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF) Leaders' Meeting

4th ABAC Meeting: Embracing equity, sustainability, and opportunity

ABAC members and delegates actively participated in the 4th annual meeting of the APEC Business Advisory Council in 2023, themed "Equity - Sustainability - Opportunity." This meeting served as a preparation for the APEC CEO Summit and the ABAC Dialogue with APEC Leaders.

The 4th ABAC meeting drew more than 250 delegates, including leaders from prestigious and influential investment and promotion organizations, as well as prominent corporations and businesses in the Asia-Pacific region. Notably, Ms. Katherine Tai, U.S. Trade Representative, attended and delivered a significant speech during the Opening Plenary Session, expressing the United States' interest in and support for ABAC.

During the meeting, various substantial matters were addressed, including updates on the APEC CEO Summit 2023, arrangements and preparations for the Dialogue Conference between ABAC and APEC Leaders, and discussions on the Council's priorities and activities in 2024. ABAC endorsed the Council's work program for 2024 with the theme "People. Business. Prosperity." The Council looks forward to advancing its objectives by 2024 and continuing its impactful work.

The ABAC Dialogue with APEC Leaders, occurring immediately after the APEC CEO Summit, was built upon extensive research and meetings throughout the year between ABAC and APEC Trade and Finance Ministers. These meetings covered critical areas such as food security, women's issues, the economy, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and tourism.

President Vo Van Thuong participates in the dialogue between APEC leaders and guests

APEC CEO Summit 2023: Advancing collaborative solutions for future cooperation

The APEC CEO Summit 2023, a pivotal event with significant economic and trade implications for the region during APEC Economic Leaders' Week, saw active participation from VCCI. Originating in the Philippines in 1996, the APEC CEO Summit has evolved into an annual cornerstone within the APEC Economic Leaders' Week.

Attended by approximately 2,000 leaders representing leading global and regional businesses, alongside representatives from international organizations, the APEC CEO Summit 2023, themed "Creating Economic Opportunity," featured 20 sessions highlighting the potential of collaboration and fresh thinking to build the future through a focus on sustainability, inclusion, resilience, and innovation.

Addressing the gathering, Vietnamese President Vo Van Thuong highlighted three fundamental themes: Firstly, addressing challenges confronting the world economy and the imperative for innovative approaches; Secondly, examining how APEC, including regional businesses, can contribute to resolving contemporary global economic challenges; Thirdly, elucidating Vietnam's perspective and development orientation in a dynamically changing world.

President Vo Van Thuong emphasized the necessity for a new inclusive, harmonious and humane mindset to pursue the set goals. This involves ensuring a symbiotic relationship between economic growth, social justice and environmental protection, while upholding an open, interconnected global economy that safeguards the economic security of nations. Furthermore, the global governance of transformative technologies, notably artificial intelligence and biotechnology, should not only manage technological development but also address the broader economic, societal, cultural, and political consequences. Prioritizing resources for sustainable and inclusive development goals is deemed essential.

In the face of contemporary challenges such as renewed protectionism, climate change, social inequity and geopolitical tensions, President Vo Van Thuong underscored APEC's role as a forum for exploring and testing novel ideas and solutions, particularly in restoring and bolstering confidence in free trade and investment. He emphasized the imperative for APEC to reaffirm its commitment to market openness, foster international economic connections, and support an open, inclusive, and sustainable global economy. Additionally, collaborative efforts should be directed toward bolstering international cooperation on economic security, particularly enhancing the resilience of member economies and businesses in the region against future crises.

President Vo Van Thuong also advocated supporting economies in preparing for emerging development trends by embracing breakthrough technologies, including artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and biotechnology. This involves research, piloting, and replicating green economic models, circular economy principles, and clean energy transitions. Furthermore, there is a call to enhance capacity for constructing social policies benefiting all, with particular attention to women, the impoverished, the disadvantaged, and SMEs.

President Vo Van Thuong emphasized that APEC's success hinges on the foundation of friendship and trust among its members, along with the collaboration of businesses and citizens. He called on all members to uphold the spirit of cooperation, responsibility, and multilateralism, setting aside differences to collectively address challenges and contribute to peace, cooperation, and development in the region and the world. Vietnam stands ready to join APEC members and the Asia-Pacific business community in forging a prosperous future for all. He expressed confidence that, with consensus and determination, APEC will continue to script success stories in its ongoing development.

During the roundtable program fostering connections between businesses and localities in Vietnam and the United States, held on the sidelines of the APEC Economic Leaders’ Week in San Francisco, VCCI formalized an MoU with Andrews University. The signing ceremony took place in the presence of President Vo Van Thuong, alongside leaders from various Vietnamese ministries and localities, as well as representatives from several U.S. organizations

Engagement with the U.S.-APEC Business Coalition

As part of the significant activities during the APEC Economic Leaders' Week, President Vo Van Thuong engaged in a meeting and dialogue with the U.S.-APEC Business Coalition. Present at the discussion were Mr. Ted Osius, President and CEO of the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council, along with representatives from numerous major U.S. businesses and corporations spanning various sectors, including Apple Inc., Boeing, BowerGroupAsia, Cargill, Chubb, Citi, Crowell & Moring International, East West Bank, FedEx, Google, KKR, Mayer Brown, Meta Platforms, Microsoft, Moody's, Organon, Pfizer, Procter & Gamble, Prudential Financial, Inc., PwC, UPS, Visa, Walmart, and Western Digital Corporation.

During the meeting, U.S. business representatives acknowledged and commended the achievements and development potential of the Vietnamese economy. They expressed a keen interest in expanding their search for investment opportunities and increasing business and investments in Vietnam. Recommendations were made for Vietnam to enhance investment, develop airports and critical infrastructure systems, bolster digital infrastructure, pursue reform initiatives, and streamline electronic customs clearance processes. Moreover, the suggestion to actively implement policies on digital transformation and one-touch payment systems was put forth.

President Vo Van Thuong informed U.S. businesses and investors of Vietnam's policies and strategic directions in economic development. He noted that numerous major U.S. enterprises have made substantial investments in Vietnam, mutually benefiting both nations.

Emphasizing the recent elevation of bilateral relations to the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, President Thuong underscored this as a significant opportunity for U.S. businesses to fortify collaborations, particularly with Vietnamese entities and localities. He emphasized the fields of strength for the United States, such as innovation, infrastructure development, healthcare, research and development, and encouraged initiatives focusing on women, children, and individuals in remote areas. He expressed openness to novel ideas and policy recommendations from U.S. businesses.

Addressing lingering obstacles in the cooperation between the two nations, President Vo Van Thuong hoped that U.S. businesses would advocate for the recognition of Vietnam's market economy mechanism by the U.S. Government. Additionally, he hoped for the removal of Vietnam from the semiconductor collaboration restriction list, facilitating enhanced collaborative projects between the two countries.

Established in November 1995 by the APEC Economic Leaders at the behest of the private economic sector, the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) serves the pivotal role of advising APEC leaders on significant business-related matters within the region.
Comprising representatives from all 21 member economies, ABAC designates a maximum of three representatives from the private economic sector for each economy. These members, officially appointed by the heads of APEC economies, represent the private economic sector across all levels, encompassing medium, small, and micro-enterprises.
ABAC Vietnam’s official members include Mr. Pham Tan Cong, President of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Chairman of ABAC Vietnam; Mr. Nguyen Thanh Hung, Chairman of Sovico Holdings and a member of ABAC Vietnam; and Mr. Dang Thanh Tam, Chairman of Saigon Invest Group and also a member of ABAC Vietnam. 
ABAC Vietnam consistently and actively engages in APEC Business Advisory Council initiatives. Notably, it made significant contributions during Vietnam’s tenure as APEC Chair in 2006 and 2017. During these periods, VCCI, as ABAC Chair, presided over and hosted several paramount business events within the APEC framework, including four editions of the ABAC meeting throughout the year, dialogues between ABAC and the leaders of the 21 APEC economies, and the APEC CEO Summit.
In 2017, the APEC CEO Summit hosted by ABAC Vietnam drew more than 2,000 international delegates, featuring the direct participation and addresses of several APEC leaders, including the President of the United States, the President of China, the President of the Philippines, the President of Peru, the Prime Minister of Australia, the Prime Minister of New Zealand, and the Prime Minister of Canada, among other leaders.
In 2009 and 2012, ABAC Vietnam demonstrated proactive engagement within the ABAC community by hosting mid-term meetings in Da Nang City and Ho Chi Minh City. Most recently, ABAC Vietnam played host to the 3rd ABAC Meeting from July 26-29, 2022, in Ha Long City, Quang Ninh.

By Quynh Anh, Vietnam Business Forum