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The World Economic Forum on ASEAN in 2018 and Vietnam’s imprint
28/12/2018 9:2' Send Print
The World Economic Forum on ASEAN in 2018. Photo: VNA

The World Economic Forum and the participation and cooperation of Vietnam

Founded in 1971 in Geneva, Switzerland, the World Economic Forum (WEF) is a neutral, non-profit organization. To date, WEF has become the most prestigious economic forum in the world, an important channel of dialogue between leaders of governments and leading corporations, giving nations opportunities to invest, develop, discuss global and regional issues of common interest, as well as strengthen linkages and broaden partnerships.

Every year, WEF hosts a number of regional and global forums, with the participation of many government leaders, large businesses, social organizations and academics around the world to discuss economic and development issues and global topical issues. Of all the events organized by WEF, its Annual Meeting, held at the end of January every year in Davos, Switzerland, is the most important one. Leaders from many countries attending WEF Annual Meeting discuss big global issues, such as the evolution of the world economy, growth model, economic governance, corporate administration and jointly make commitments to strengthen cooperation for common prosperity. In addition to the annual meeting in Davos, WEF also hosts a series of regional forums in East Asia, the Middle East, Latin America and Africa. Like other regional WEF, WEF East Asia is the place to exchange, analyze and evaluate regional development issues, strengthen and expand cooperation among countries in the region and between East Asian countries and other parts of the world.

WEF's decision to rename WEF East Asia into WEF ASEAN in 2016 after the establishment of the ASEAN Community shows that WEF attaches importance to ASEAN countries. WEF ASEAN is a prestigious forum in the region, an important channel for ASEAN leaders and business community inside and outside ASEAN to assess economic development issues, regional and global issues, sharing ideas, visions, appropriate directions and policies to enhance self-reliance and dynamic development of ASEAN economies for equal and inclusive development in ASEAN.

Vietnam's cooperation with WEF began in 1989, and until now WEF has been an important forum which greatly contributes to the socio-economic development and international integration of Vietnam. Viet Nam values its ties with WEF, considering it an important dialogue mechanism to heighten the image of the nation, promote ideas on economic reform and development, and open up great opportunities for attracting foreign investment capital to develop the country. Vietnam has proactively participated in WEF conferences and made many practical contributions and outstanding initiatives to the forum during nearly 30 years of accession. Over the past time, senior Vietnamese leaders have regularly attended WEF Annual Meeting held in Davos, actively participated in and effectively coordinated with the ASEAN countries to organize the Forum in the region. The cooperation between Vietnam and WEF has been increasingly enhanced, become more effective, expanded to several fields such as agriculture, industry, commerce, infrastructure, information technology, among others. Vietnam's active participation and strengthened cooperation with WEF contribute to realizing and concretizing the policy of improving the quality and efficiency of multilateral foreign relations of the Vietnamese Party and the State.

The success of WEF ASEAN plays an important role in Vietnam's implementation of its foreign policy. It is one of the important and effective channels for Vietnamese leaders and businesses to meet leaders and business community in and outside the region to discuss economic and development issues of Vietnam and the region, come up with effective solutions to overcome difficulties, and challenges and recommend major directions for further growth of Vietnam and the ASEAN Community. In addition, WEF ASEAN has also contributed significantly to Vietnam's expansion and deepening of cooperation with ASEAN countries, ensuring in-depth, stable, substantial and effective cooperative relations.

In 2010, as the ASEAN Chair, Vietnam actively cooperated with WEF and successfully hosted WEF on East Asia with the theme "Asia's Growing Role in Global Development." Under the chair of the host country Vietnam, WEF East Asia 2010 took place with 20 official meetings on four basic contents: the growing role of Asia; global risks; Asia's green growth roadmap; and competitive capability. As the world economy in general and Asian economies were suffering from the severe impacts of the 2008-2009 global financial crisis, Vietnam proactively proposed many initiatives at the Forum to deal with the financial crisis, world economic recession, restoration of the growth momentum in Asia. Vietnam’s proposals and contributions to the forum received widespread support from the participating countries and the appreciation of the WEF Board.

Following WEF East Asia 2010, at the initiative of Vietnam, the first WEF on the Mekong region was successfully organized in Hanoi in 2016. It was an important channel, aiming at connecting and promoting the Mekong region with the world's leading businesses, thus opening up new opportunities for cooperation and investment from outside the region to promote growth and development in the Mekong region. Under the theme "Mekong Region Development: Investing in Infrastructure, Human Resources and Connectivity," the forum focused on important issues of development and integration of the Mekong region, such as development vision and orientation of the region, mobilization of resources to develop regional infrastructure, trade facilitation, investment and tourism, promotion of industrialization and sustainable development in area in the new stage.

To date, Vietnam is the only country in Southeast Asia that WEF has signed a cooperation agreement under a Public-Private Partnership (PPP). The two sides continue to accelerate the implementation of cooperation agreements on six main areas including economy and socialization, cross-border trade and investment, infrastructure, agricultural production and food security, education and gender equality. Under the agreement, WEF supports and advises Vietnam to improve its capacity to participate in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, make good use of opportunities and cope effectively with challenges posed by the industrial revolution. In addition, Vietnam is actively participating and making practical contributions to WEF's initiative "New Vision in Agriculture." Vietnam has also joined the WEF's "Future of Production Systems" Initiative Coordination Board 2016 and the ASEAN Regional Strategy Group in 2017.

It can be said that after nearly three decades of joining WEF, Vietnam has always proved to be a dynamic, active and responsible member and a reliable partner of the Forum in the region with positive contributions to the success and development of the WEF.

The World Economic Forum on ASEAN in 2018: "The most successful regional conference"

WEF ASEAN 2018 brought together a number of heads of ASEAN countries, senior leaders of partner countries and about 1,000 representatives of multinational corporations (including many top 500 corporations with strong financial potential, technology and management skills), ASEAN and international companies, and about 800 local firms.

During the three-day meeting, WEF ASEAN 2018 with 60 discussions focused on five main content areas, including: defining a new vision for ASEAN in regional integration; searching for new economic and governance models in the digital age; seeking new business motivation and models for ASEAN countries in Industrial Revolution 4.0; new approach of businesses to global and regional governance; specific issues on intelligent infrastructure development, skills training, employment, start-ups, and innovation. The themes of the discussions were diverse, practical, namely the Asian economic prospect, cyber security, self-reliance of the region, and Office 4.0, meeting requirements of all participants.

At the opening session, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc highlighted ASEAN's opportunities and challenges in Industrial Revolution 4.0, and proposed priorities for ASEAN to continue its central role in the region, such as developing ASEAN rules for data sharing, establishing a framework for linking national innovative nurseries with the regional nursery network. The proposals of Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc received high appreciation of delegates.

WEF Founder and Executive Chairman Professor Klaus Schwab commended WEF ASEAN 2018 in Vietnam as the most successful regional meeting of WEF. As the host country, Vietnam made tremendous contributions to the overall success of the Forum. Some highlights are as follows:

First, thorough preparation for WEF ASEAN 2018. Professor Klaus Schwab highly appreciated the close coordination between WEF and Vietnam in organizing this event. Vietnam proactively proposed ideas, discussed and oriented policy to awaken potential, creativeness and dynamism of businesses and people towards building a dynamic, strong and prosperous ASEAN Community for people.

In terms of content, in the spirit of building and cooperating for mutual benefits, through the hosting of WEF ASEAN 2018, right from the stage of content preparation, Vietnam consulted ASEAN members and discussed with WEF to include interesting issues it believed are key to ASEAN countries, such as infrastructure, smart cities, hi-tech agriculture in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, employment in the context of ASEAN labor redundancy. The identification of suitable issues brought about an opportunity for ASEAN countries to share ideas with the international community and vice versa to obtain assessment on ASEAN of the world community to develop appropriate policies. At the same time, it further consolidated and promoted ASEAN's central role in the region, boost self-reliance and adaptation to rapid changes of the world and the region, promoted innovation and raised cooperation efficiency, and integration for more practical benefits for people and businesses.

Regarding organization, in the spirit of promoting not only image of Vietnam in particular but also of ASEAN in general, Vietnam consulted with ASEAN countries on the organization of the forum. Therefore, WEF ASEAN 2018 was also a festival of ASEAN countries. With Vietnam’s coordination, the forum devoted its space to promote ASEAN countries with rich contents in vivid forms, conveying their messages about a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, united “common house of the ASEAN Community," a shared vision and a shared identity. This is unique feature unprecedented in previous regional WEFs.

Second, there was close cohesion between the common theme of a "Resilient and Innovative" ASEAN with the spirit of the business community in responding and taking advantages of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Thus, Vietnam proposed the theme “ASEAN 4.0: Entrepreneurship and the Fourth Industrial Revolution” for the event. The success of WEF ASEAN 2018 enhanced the status, position and coherence of ASEAN countries and ASEAN economies, creating an image of a united, dynamic, self-reliant ASEAN in international integration and taking advantage of the opportunities of the Fourth Industrial Revolution for the development of the region.

WEF ASEAN 2018 is a good chance for Vietnam to send to businesses, investors and the international community messages about renewal policies, will for innovation, proactive and active international integration of the Vietnamese Party and State, the image of a peace-lowing, socially and politically stable, economically dynamic, open, fast-developing Vietnam, a responsible and reliable members of the international community. Foreign delegates attending the event directly witnessed the vigorous development of the country, its resolve to build the facilitating Government and its efforts to improve the business investment environment, the vibrant business atmosphere and the image of the gentle, hospitable, open, dynamic, creative Vietnamese people with strong desire and will to go forward. All these help connect partnership, business and investment in Vietnam through a variety of action programs, diversified projects capitalizing on opportunities of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Partnership with multinational corporations will be an opportunity and a driving force for Vietnamese enterprises to boldly think, do, improve productivity, quality, efficiency and competitiveness in the world.

WEF ASEAN 2018 contributed to expanding and deepening ties between Vietnam and other countries in the region. During the Forum, meetings, official visits by senior leaders from regional countries to Vietnam fostered bilateral relations in ASEAN as well as coordination in addressing regional and international issues.

WEF ASEAN 2018 organized many activities, such as the Open Forum on Innovative Start-ups, Vietnam Business Summit, Vietnam Cultural Festival, promotion events at national and provincial levels like Quang Ninh and cities of Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City and Danang, presenting opportunities for all levels, sectors, localities and enterprises to boost exchanges, and partnership with large corporations, businesses in the region as well as in the world to expand market, attract investment, technology, tourism and external resources for development.

WEF ASEAN 2018 was also an opportunity for Vietnam to deepen ties with other countries and partners, including neighboring countries, important strategic partners, thereby strengthening the open, multilateral and diversified external relations, contributing to creating a peaceful and stable environment for socio-economic development, enhancing the country's position and prestige in the international arena.

It can be said that the success of WEF ASEAN 2018 once again confirms the growing role, prestige and position of Vietnam in the ASEAN region and the world in the wake of the success of the 2017 APEC. This demonstrates the confidence of the international business community and investors on the development prospects of Vietnam, at the same time affirming the new position and strength of Vietnam after more than 30 years of innovation, the proactiveness and "stature" of Vietnam in international integration, facilitation and shaping the regional and global economy. WEF ASEAN 2018 is an important imprint of Vietnam, contributing to accelerating the integration of the ASEAN countries in the context of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, for peace, cooperation and sustainable development in the region and the world.

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This article was published in the Communist Review No. 912 (October 2018)

Phan Thi Thu DungMinistry of Public Security