Asia's current successes in economic growth, capital strength, foreign exchange reserves, young and dynamic labor force, as well as China's rise have elevated the position of the region. As a forum gathering dynamic economies in Asia-Pacific and playing an important role in promoting trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is increasingly seen as an important catalyst for peace, security and prosperity in the region and in the world.
Joining APEC is a great opportunity for Vietnam to integrate more deeply into the regional and world economies. In 1998, Vietnam was a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), APEC and Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), and was negotiating to join the World Trade Organization (WTO). Vietnam's active participation in APEC is an important foundation for building international partners’ trust and facilitating the first diplomatic channel to realize economic and political goals. APEC, at the time of Vietnam's accession, had grown for nearly 10 years, with great potential and a voice covering 21 economies. At the same time, it also set clear objectives for economic cooperation, really being a wide cooperation channel with huge potential. Currently, APEC's trade turnover accounts for 48 percent of the world figure with three largest economies on the planet, namely the US, China and Russia. The 21 economies now have about 2.8 billion people and contribute 43 trillion USD to the world’s GDP and 20 trillion USD to global trade or 39 percent, 59 percent and 48 percent respectively.
Vietnam is hosting of the APEC Year 2017 shows the high credibility of the international community and affirms Vietnam's strategic vision on the future of the Asia-Pacific region. It is also a great honor and responsibility of Vietnam as it works with other member economies to make the APEC Year 2017 a highlight in the uninterrupted development process of the forum, contributing to deepening Vietnam’s partnership and cooperation with other APEC member economies, enterprises and partners in the region. This is an activity towards celebrating the 20th anniversary of Vietnam’s APEC membership (November 1998 –November 2018).
Thanks to APEC's trade and investment liberalization and facilitation programs, Vietnamese goods have encountered fewer barriers while entering APEC markets. APEC plays a role as a huge and potential market for Vietnamese enterprises to access and capitalise on. The trend of promoting trade liberalization and facilitation in APEC has opened up tremendous opportunities for Vietnam's business community, especially small- and medium-sized enterprises, to seek cooperation and boost exports to markets inside and outside the region. Gathering Vietnam’s leading economic partners, APEC is currently the largest direct investor of the country, accounting for 78 percent of total foreign direct investment, 60 percent of export value, 80 percent of import value, and 79 percent of international visitors to Vietnam.
Notably, Vietnam’s export turnover to APEC members has continuously increased year-on-year. According to the General Department of Vietnam Customs, the export turnover was estimate at 98.37 billion USD in 2014. It grew about 8 percent to 106.12 billion USD in 2015 and hit 119.69 billion USD in 2016. Seven APEC members are currently in the top 10 export markets of Vietnam, including the US (1st place), China (2nd place), Japan (3rd place), the Republic of Korea (4th place), Hong Kong - China (5th place), Malaysia (9th place) and Singapore (10thplace). Some important partners, known as major intermediary exporters, have re-exported goods imported from Vietnam to developed countries. Thanks to this, Vietnamese goods have more opportunities to access markets outside the region and reach consumers around the world.
Over the past time, APEC members not only have been the key export markets of Vietnamese enterprises, but also have become important partners of Vietnamese importers, meeting demands for materials, consumer goods and especially machinery, equipment, transport means and spare parts in order to serve increasing production and business activities in the country. The important commitments to trade liberalization and facilitation within the framework of APEC have had positive and direct impacts on businesses’ import activities with their partners, mainly APEC members. Accordingly, the import of materials for production or goods from neighboring Asian markets or even markets on the other side of the Pacific Ocean has been more convenient and easier for domestic enterprises. Vietnamese importers will enjoy significant incentives from cutting down tariffs, trade barriers and customs formalities and save up to 5 percent of trade transaction costs, thus lowering costs and gradually improving product competitiveness.
The engagement in APEC cooperation has been facilitating members’ sharing of good experience and practices and encouraging individual efforts of each member through programs to reform and perfect mechanisms and policies on the 15 areas of the Individual Action Plan (IAP), cooperation programs related to APEC’s trade and investment facilitation including the Supply Chain Connectivity Framework Action Plan (SCFAP), Global Value Chains (GVCs), Environmental Goods and Services (EGS) and Investment Policy Review.
In particular, APEC has also cooperated in building capacity through projects within the framework of the economic and technical cooperation program (Ecotech), facilitating business travel (APEC Business Travel Card (ABTC) program), medical and educational cooperation and establishment of the APEC scholarship fund. Vietnam can utilize important channels such as the annual dialogue between the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC) and the Government and the CEO Summit on the sidelines of the APEC Economic Leaders' Week and the Doing Business with Vietnam forum, hosted by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), to solve difficulties facing the regional business community and open up great business cooperation opportunities.
In recent years, Vietnam has tried to take advantage of cooperation programs within APEC, step-by-step adjusted mechanisms and policies to build an open and transparent investment environment and gradually removed barriers to trade and investment in line with common rules. Vietnam has been utilizing APEC cooperation as well as bilateral relations with other members of the forum to expand opportunities to attract abundant and stable direct investment flows, improve technical infrastructure, develop human resources and increase modern technology transfer, actively contributing to boosting the competitiveness and operational efficiency of domestic businesses./.
Vietnam - a bright spot of Asia in the era of globalization
The economy takes off
In 2017, with the efforts of the entire political system, business community and people, especially drastic measures to build a Government of integrity that nurtures development, serve the people and accompany businesses, Vietnam’s socio-economic situation has seen positive changes and recorded numerous important achievements. They are (1) The macro economy has been stable and grown more encouragingly, with GDP growth rate in the first nine months of 2017 reaching 6.41 percent (5.15 percent in the first quarter, 6.28 percent in the second quarter and 7.46 percent in the third quarter); it is forecast that Vietnam’s economic growth for 2017 will hit 6.7 percent, fulfilling the target, and inflation will be curbed at a low level; (2) Production and business operations have continued to prosper, with Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) always surpassing 50 points, especially 53,3 points in September; growth of the key economic sectors has improved, particularly in industry, construction and services; exports have sharply increased, reaching 154 billion USD in the first three quarters, up 19 percent year-on-year; foreign direct investment soared 34.3 percent to 25.5 billion USD and disbursed capital hit a record of 12.5 billion USD, up 12.4 percent… (3) The investment and business environment has continued to improve and become more attractive to foreign investors thanks to positive progress in administrative procedure reform (tax, customs, investment, insurance…). The Ministry of Industry and Trade cut down 675 investment and business conditions in 2017: (i) The Global Competitiveness Report 2017 – 2018, published by the World Economic Forum (WEF), shows that Vietnam’s competitiveness advanced five places over 2016 and 20 places compared to five years ago to the 55th out of 137 economies, thanks to positive improvements in technological readiness and labor market efficiency…; (ii) Fitch Ratings’ revision of Vietnam’s outlook from "stable" to "positive" has drawn attention from foreign investors to Vietnam's economy, especially its stock and real estate markets... The World Bank (WB), the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the Hong-Kong-Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) forecast Vietnam’s GDP growth would stand at 6.5-6.8 percent in 2018. In the coming years, Vietnam's economy will continue to maintain its steady and high growth momentum thanks to the efforts and determination of the entire political system in: (1) Promoting economic restructuring in combination with renewing the growth model, improving productivity, quality, efficiency and competitiveness; (2) Encouraging innovation and start-ups, developing businesses and promoting economic growth; (3) Drastically implementing administrative reform, improving the business and investment climate, and creating a healthy and fair competitive environment; (4)Stepping up trade promotion, expanding export markets associated with building Vietnamese brands and joining regional and global production networks and value chains…
International position has been increasingly confirm
In 2017, it is an honor for Vietnam to host the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) for the second time. This shows the high credibility of the international community toward Vietnam after nearly 20 years of its APEC membership. The theme “Creating New Dynamism, Fostering a Shared Future” of the APEC Year 2017 is highly appreciated and welcomed by international friends and partners. Inheriting the recent achievements of APEC cooperation over the past time, Vietnam has set out four priorities: promoting sustainable, innovative and inclusive growth; deepening regional economic integration; strengthening MSMEs’ competitiveness and innovation in the digital age; enhancing food security and sustainable agriculture in response to climate change. These priorities meet the interest and benefits of member economies, suit the common trend in international cooperation and reflect the socio-economic development demand of Vietnam in the new period.
The identification of the right theme, priorities and directions for APEC 2017 cooperation clearly represents the strategic vision of Vietnam in its foreign policy: (1) It is the vision of a peaceful, stable and dynamic Asia-Pacific that continues to be the locomotive of regional and global economic growth and linkages; (2) APEC activities this year should create new impetuses to promote growth and lift regional economic integration to a new height; (3) 2017is expected to be the year when APEC continues to affirm its role as a forum initiating ideas, directing and coordinating economic linkages; (4) After 28 years of formation and development, it is also an important time to shape the post-2020 APEC Vision. With those meanings, the APEC Vietnam Year 2017 is a significant opportunity to confirm the firmness and brainpower of Vietnam in foreign relations, particularly the multilateral diplomacy in the period of extensive and intensive international integration. This is also a great chance for Vietnam to contribute to shaping the future of not only APEC but also the regional economic structure.
Collaborating to succeed
For Vietnam, APEC is one of the most important multilateral for that offer the most substantial benefits. The forum brings together 13 out of 25 strategic and comprehensive partners, and many leading economic and trade partners of Vietnam. 18 APEC members are the key partners in bilateral and multilateral free trade agreements (FTAs) to which Vietnam are a signatory. APEC members account for 78 percent of foreign direct investment, 75 percent of trade, 38 percent of official development assistance, and 79 percent of international tourist arrivals to Vietnam. About 80 percent of overseas Vietnamese students are studying in APEC member economies. Vietnam has signed 13 of 15 FTA swath 18 APEC members. Seven APEC economies are currently in the top 10 export markets of Vietnam, including the US, China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Hong Kong - China, Malaysia and Singapore.
It can be said that, apart from contributing to the common success of the APEC 2017 multilateral cooperation, Vietnam will have the chance to bring bilateral relations with APEC member economies to a new height in a deeper and more effective manner. During the APEC Economic Leaders’ Week in November 2017, there will be a wide range of meetings and official visits by heads of state and high-ranking leaders of APEC member economies to Vietnam, which aim to deepen bilateral relations and coordination in regional and international affairs. APEC's anticipated success contributes to encouraging and hastening the world's most prestigious enterprises to do business and invest in Vietnam.