The Asia-Europe Cooperation Forum (ASEM) was established according to the idea of the former Prime Minister of Singapore Goh Chock Tong. Over the past 10 years of its existence and development, ASEM has actively operated for better understanding and promotion of cooperation between the two continents. In the early years of the 21st century, however, the cooperation between Asia and Europe has been significantly impacted by some international factors:
Firstly, the phenomenon of globalization which all aspects of socio-economic life has undergone all over the world; secondly, in Asia the strong trend of regional economic associations with the establishment of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum (APEC), the Initiative to establish East Asia Economic Community (EAEC), the Shanghai Economic Cooperation Community; thirdly, the continued expansion of the EU; fourthly, the complex developments in the world following the 11th Sept 2001 attack in the US, the bombings in Bali (Indonesia 2002) and the attack of the Chechen rebels (Russia 2002) have made world security unstable. All the above-mentioned factors have directly and indirectly impacted the Asia-Europe cooperation.
Vietnam is one of the founding member of ASEM and has participated in all the cooperative activities and actively contributed to the development of a cooperative relationship between the two continents, for example Vietnam and France co-proposed the initiative of preserving and promoting cultural relics in ASEM member countries (2nd ASEM Summit Meeting), the initiative of combining traditional medicine with modern medicine in curing and caring for the health of community (2nd ASEM Foreign Ministers Meeting March 1999); the initiatives of promoting tourism in ASEM to reduce poverty and foster prosperity, promoting the exchange of experiences in formulating fiscal policy between Ministries of Finance of ASEM countries, discussions on the formulation of a market institutional setting in international integration (4th ASEM Summit Meeting); the initiative of cooperation in ASEM in the application of information technology for human resource development and the formulation of institutional arrangement, the ASEM seminar on EU-Asia cooperation on clean technology, cooperation in ASEM on HIV/AIDS control (5th ASEM Summit Meeting). The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and The Ministry of Trade of Vietnam cooperated to establish the ASEM Economic Taskforce and successfully organized the first negotiation round on the Doha development agenda in Hanoi and the 7th Asia-Europe Young Leaders Forum in Ho Chi Minh City (July 2003).
During the period of holding the role of Asian coordinator in ASEM, Vietnam significantly contributed to the success of the 5th Foreign Ministers Meeting in Bali (Indonesia July 2003) by cooperating with the host country Indonesia and other coordinator countries such as Japan and Italy along with the European Committee in the preparation and reflected concerns and interests of other member countries to the contents of the meeting.
The biggest contribution of Vietnam was the successful organization of the 5th ASEM Summit Meeting in Hanoi. The objectives of the 5th ASEM Summit Meeting was to make the operation of ASEM more realistic and effective not only in political dialogue but also in economic cooperation. Vietnam also organized relevant activities such as the Asia-Europe Parliament Meeting, the Trade Union Forum, the Youth Forum, the Business Forum and the People Forum amongst others. The 5th ASEM Summit Meeting promoted the image and enhanced the prestige of Vietnam in the international arena.