"Join hands to build Asia in the post-Covid 19 era
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is my great pleasure today to attend and address the 26th International Conference on the Future of Asia. At the outset, I would like to thank the Government of Japan and Nikkei Inc. for inviting me to this very significant Conference. Let me take this opportunity, on behalf of the Government of Vietnam and from my own heart, to extend my warm greetings and best wishes to all distinguished leaders and participants.
Ladies and gentlemen,
I commend Nikkei for choosing a highly relevant and suitable theme, namely: “Shaping the post-COVID era: Asia’s role in the global recovery”. This affirms the role and standing of Asia in the fight against COVID-19, and in the post-COVID economic recovery and development. Our Conference today takes place at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic is occuring in an extremely complex manner regionally and globally. The pandemic is also seriously affecting the socio-economic development and the people’s life in all countries. Impacts of the pandemic have increasingly unveiled the challenges facing Asia such as the development gap in institutions, infrastructure and technology, traditional and non-traditional security issues, including natural disasters, environmental pollution and climate change, among others. Moreover, the pandemic has deeply altered the economic structure and order, method of global governance, economic operation and organisation of social life around the world.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Asia has always played a critical role in the world economy and politics, and has an immense and multi-faceted influence on the shaping of the new era. Over the last decades, Asia has stood the test of numerous crises and recessions, and risen to become an essential engine for the global economy. The initial success of Asian countries in the prevention of and fight against the pandemic, together with the economic recovery recently, has proved the dynamics and vitality of a rising region. This helps position Asia’s standing in a changing world.
The COVID-19 pandemic, however, is viewed as “the most dreadful disaster facing the humanities since the World War II. The pandemic has been and will enormously impact the regional and global landscape, and the social and economic life of all countries. More than ever before, it is now time for all nations to set aside differences and disagreements for unity, unanimity, mutual support and mutual assistance. Together, we will defeat the pandemic.
The worse predicament will require us to be more united for greater cooperation to triumph over adversities and hardships. Extraordinary circumstances call for strong, resolute and special actions and measures. We need a new cooperation framework that creates necessary breakthroughs to both help our economies weather the pandemic and lay the groundwork for sustainable development and inclusive growth in the future. Together, we can join hands to build an Asia of peace, cooperation and stronger development in the post-COVID 19 era.
It is essential to vigorously foster internal strength, intensify adaptation capacity, self-reliance and resilience, enhance international cooperation, place people at the centre of all policies, consider cultural and historical traditions as the bedrock, and regard adversities and challenges as the motivation. We need to focus on six areas of cooperation as follows:
First, the development of high-quality and strategic infrastructure is both an effective measure to stimulate economic growth in the short term, and a strategic breakthrough in the long term. Given the current pace of development, Asia needs a solid infrastructure system to support economic growth and ensure smooth connectivity from North to South, from East to West.
According to the Asia Development Bank, by 2030 developing countries in Asia will need to invest at least $1.7 trillion each year into infrastructure. Therefore, we welcome the initiatives for high-quality and strategic infrastructure proposed by the Japanese Government and other partners. We also need a more innovative approach to financing, engaging the private sector, encouraging public-private partnership (PPP), and improving public investment to lead and absorb private investment.
Second, we need to advance equal and effective economic cooperation, integration and connectivity bilaterally and multilaterally to ensure the flows of trade and investment and sustain the global supply chain.
The post-COVID recovery of Asia will be largely dependent on its ability to maintain intra-and inter-regional trade and investment. These efforts must be deployed at all global, regional, inter-regional and national levels, particularly in domestic reform of every nation. The open and rules-based economic connectivity frameworks, such as CPTPP and RCEP, will help to accelerate the regional economic recovery and development process. Meanwhile, the participating countries need to have further discussions to seek methods for running the regional economies in an appropriate manner so as to support the fight against the pandemic and the goal of economic growth. It is critical to ensure movement of goods and people, and guarantee smooth operations of supply and production chains, and business as well.
Third, the strengthening of cooperation in science and technology, and digital technology provides fresh impetus for Asia to forge ahead in the post-COVID era. To maximize gains and minimize risks from the booming digital economy, we need to bolster cooperation in the following areas: (i) Enhancing digital infrastructure and connectivity effectively, especially in developing countries, (ii) Building e-government and moving towards digital government, digital economy and digital society; (iii) Improving the people’s digital knowledge and skills, and upskilling our workforce; (iv) Working together to establish frameworks for cybersecurity, data security, management of tax and logistic system for e-commerce.
Fourth, green growth must be advanced from the very beginning of post-COVID recovery. This will help shape the development of the entire economy with greater sustainability, ensure greater ecological balance, and address environmental and climate challenges.
We need to step up information sharing and technology transfer in building a net-zero emission growth model and a circular economy, and sustainable management of natural resources. Such cooperation also includes the implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change, the fulfillment of the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals, and the attainment of a global agreement on combating marine plastic debris.
Fifth, we need to strengthen cooperation to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, improve public health capacity and social welfare, and stand ready to respond to future health challenges. Vietnam is ready to share its experience in the prevention of and fight against COVID-19. Vietnam also looks forward to continue receiving the support and assistance from all countries in this endeavor, especially in terms of research and production, and equal access to vaccines against COVID-19.
In the present emergency, the production and distribution of vaccines are no longer the business of any single country or corporation, but are instead humanitarian issues with public health being the highest objective. No country can remain safe while other countries are still affected by the ongoing pandemic. Accordingly, the top priority now is to secure the supply of vaccines and ensure fair and timely access to it, while also reducing intellectual property rights barriers and accelerating the transfer of technologies for vaccine production in an open, practical and effective way.
Furthermore, we can take into consideration the establishment of regional cooperation or make full use of existing mechanisms to respond to COVID-19 and other contagious diseases in the future. We can work together on the establishment of the ASEAN Centre for Public Health Emergencies and Emerging Diseases.
Sixth, securing a peaceful and stable international environment is the prerequisite for economic and social development. As the region and the world are mobilising major resources to handle the urgent and unprecedented matters, it is imperative for all countries to make contributions to the concerted efforts in a responsible manner. It is also crucial to uphold the principles of mutual respect, equal cooperation for mutual benefits. Regarding the South China Sea, we must address disputes and differences by peaceful solutions, fully observe the laws, especially the UN Charter and the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. We need to bring into full play the multilateral cooperation mechanisms, implement fully and effectively the DOC and work closely in the effective negotiations for the COC to be soon concluded. We also need to maintain peace, cooperation and development in the region, freedom of navigation and overflights in the South China Sea.
Vietnam is a responsible member, and stands ready to join other countries in nurturing peace, stability, development and unity for the shared interests and prosperity of each nation, the region and the world at large, and for all people’s well-being and happiness around the world.
The Vietnamese people have a saying: “fire is the test of gold; adversity, of strong men” while the Japanese have an adage: “Beautiful is the plum flower that endures the snow” (Yuuki ni Taete Baika Uruwashi).
We are deeply convinced that we will unite together and join hands to build Asia in the post-COVID era. This faith comes from the Asian values and characteristics. Those are the values of community, vision, perseverance, courage, discipline, adaptability and aspiration to rise.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Talking about the future of Asia, it would be amiss not to mention Japan’s role as one of the most advanced economies in the world, having made vital contributions to the development of our continent. Asian countries and Japan together overcame the 2008 financial crisis and became an engine for global economic growth. And today we are once again standing side by side in the fight against COVID-19. Endeavors and projects that enjoy effective assistance from Japan are present everywhere in Asia, ranging from transport infrastructure, energy and agriculture to healthcare, technology, telecommunication, culture, education and public health.
The Extensive Strategic Partnership between Vietnam and Japan continues to flourish and bring about real benefits in many areas. The two countries enjoy strong political trust. Vietnam deeply appreciates the invaluable assistance that the Government and people of Japan have given to us in our socio-economic development over the past four decades. Vietnam welcomes Japan’s efforts for regional connectivity, economic integration, and sustainable development. I hope that Japan will continue to play an important role in reinforcing peace, stability, cooperation and development in the region. Let me take this opportunity to wish, and express our trust that, the Government and people of Japan, under the able leadership of Prime Minister Suga, will achieve new outstanding heights in your national development process. May your hosting of the 2021 Olympic and Paralympic Games be a great success, a symbol of global unity in the fight against COVID-19 as a testimony to the statement by Prime Minister Suga.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Alongside the international community, over the past year, Vietnam has made every effort to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. On this note, let me express the most sincere thanks and appreciation with profound emotion to the regional countries, particularly Japan for having actively assisted Vietnam in responding to COVID-19 and addressing the aftermaths of floods and droughts. Thanks to the strong determination of the Government and the whole-hearted support of the people, Vietnam has focused on the “dual goal” of fighting the pandemic effectively and reviving socio-economic development.
According to a number of international institutions, Vietnam is among the economies best positioned for post-COVID recovery. This achievement is largely owed to the political and social stability, the power of national unity, the Government’s resolute, timely and effective measures, and the solid macroeconomic foundation.
We will tirelessly continue to build upon the results achieved and overcome any challenges to advance our country, on the basis of the following three main pillars: the wellspring of cultural and historical traditions of our nation, the virtue of the Vietnamese people, and our natural resources.
Our development philosophy includes the followings : First, develop rapidly and sustainably on the basis of science, technology, innovation, digital transformation. Ensure harmony among economic growth, social and cultural development and environmental protection, and enhance climate change adaptation. The major directions for development include reform of growth model, economic restructuring, green growth, market’s demand, emerging industries and increase of productivity.
Second, complete a full-fledged, synchronized, modern and integrated institutional framework for development is the prerequisite for a favorable, healthy and fair environment for all economic sectors.
Third, inspire the aspirations for the development of a nation of prosperity, happiness and strong resilience and bring into full play the national unity. Unleash the strength of human factor and consider human as the center, the subject, the most important asset and driver for, and the goal of development. We shall not sacrifice social progress and justice in exchange for pure economic pursuit.
Fourth, develop a self-reliant economy on the foundation of mastering technology, active integration and greater adaptability. Harnessing internal strength is decisive along side external resources and the power of our times.
Fifth, implement a foreign policy of independence, self-reliance, multilateralization and diversification. To actively engage in comprehensive, intensive and effective international integration as a responsible member of the international community.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Vietnam's dynamic and potential market of one hundred million people enjoys all necessary factors, from institutions, policies and infrastructure to geographical location, political and social stability, investment climate and workforce. These conditions will enable stronger growth for Vietnam in the new era.
In the next ten years, Vietnam will focus on three strategic breakthroughs: to complete the institutions, upskill the workforce and develop a synchronized infrastructure system. Vietnam will give top priorities to projects in the fields of digital, green and circular economy, and climate change adaptation.
The robust growth of Vietnam’s economy opens up numerous investment and business opportunities for regional and international businesses. Vietnam stands ready to help you explore new opportunities for cooperation and investment in strategic infrastructure, energy, manufacturing and supporting industries, environmental industries, high-quality agribusiness, electronics, ICT, biotechnology, smart cities and logistics.
The Government of Vietnam will continue to improve the business environment, create the best conditions for and stand side by side with foreign investors. Together, we shall all win, and together we shall shoulder any risk caused by external shocks.
Ladies and gentlemen,
A rising Asia for peace, stability, prosperity and development is the shared aspiration of all regional countries. The unity among nations, the determination of Governments, the joint efforts and engagement of the business communities and the public are the key to build a brighter future for Asia.
Given our unity, self-reliance, resilience, tireless innovation and the will to rise by the labor of our own hands and minds, and make the best use of our lands, skies, and waters, we are entirely able to “make something out of nothing, make easy out of the difficult, and make the possible out of the impossible.” Asia today has in its hands the opportunities and power to shape its own role and standing in the new era, and we can say:
The future is Asia, and Asia will move together towards the future.
Thank you for your kind attention. May our Conference be a great success.