ASEAN overcomes challenges in 2021

According to Dr. Collin Koh from the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) in Singapore, the highlight of ASEAN in 2021 is its efforts to control the pandemic at the regional level and increase strengthening its engagement with partner countries outside the region.

ASEAN asserts its position

Expert Hoang Thi Ha from the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Research Institute said that as the ASEAN Chair 2021, Brunei has oriented ASEAN’s activities on specific specialized cooperation contents, through the theme. “We care, we prepare and we prosper together”. It focuses on implementing initiatives and programs to prevent the COVID-19 pandemic, and foster economic recovery, digital transformation and sustainable development.

Many of these programs and initiatives were initiated since Vietnam’s ASEAN Chairmanship Year 2020, such as the COVID-19 Response Fund, Medical Supplies Reserve, Overall Recovery Framework and Corridor Agreement Framework.

The ASEAN Committee in Mexico City (ACMC) in coordination with the Mexican Business Council for Foreign Trade, Investment and Technology (COMCE) organized a working visit to the Michoacan state from October 25 – 28 in order to promote trade and investment ties between ASEAN countries and this locality. Photo: Luu Viet Hung/VNA

The Institute of International Relations of the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry coordinated with embassies of ASEAN countries in Kyiv on October 19, 2021 to open the first center for ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Countries Studies in Ukraine. Photo: VNA

Japan’s upper house of parliament on April 28, 2021, ratified the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement. Photo: VNA

Russia and some ASEAN member countries on December 4, 2021 launched their first ever joint naval exercise along the Straits of Malacca, one of the world’s most important shipping lanes, according to the Indonesian navy. Photo: VNA

Vietnamese Ambassador Thai Xuan Dung and his spouse attended the annual ASEAN Family Day in Prague, Czech on September 9, 2021. Photo: Hong Ky/VNA

The ASEAN Committee in Buenos Aires (ACBA), including Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines on July 5, 2021 donated essential items to poor people in the capital city of Argentina who have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo: VNA

Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son and Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister for Women Marise Payne attended an ASEAN-Australia dialogue themed “Women, peace and security: progress in implementation on the road to recovery from COVID-19” on November 9, 2021. Photo: Lam Khanh/VNA


In 2021, ASEAN still maintained its role in global trade while demonstrating economic flexibility, despite the outbreak of the Delta variation and its large impact on the region. In addition to addressing the immediate challenges posed by the pandemic, ASEAN has also demonstrated foresight and fostered long-term flexibility. ASEAN’s tireless efforts in pandemic prevention and economic recovery have kept the region’s growth prospects relatively bright in 2022.

Goldman Sachs - a multinational bank operating mainly in the field of investment management and investment and securities, forecasts that most of the ASEAN economies will increase their gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate and have a higher than average income.

In that context, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) between ten ASEAN member countries and the five dialogue partner countries of Australia, China, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand, officially effective from January 1, 2022, has sent a clear signal to the international community that Southeast Asia is always open to businesses. 

Regional stability is also a focus of the agenda that ASEAN leaders pay special attention to and discuss and seek solutions for. The Chairman’s statements about the 38th and 39th Summits expressed the concern of many ASEAN leaders about unilateral actions and serious incidents in the East Sea, reaffirming the need to strengthen mutual trust and confidence building, refrain from actions that complicate the situation, maintaining peace, stability, security, safety and freedom of navigation and overflight in the East Sea.

On the Myanmar issue, ASEAN reached a 5-point consensus, sending a special envoy of the ASEAN Chairman to mediate and to promote the dialogue process and provide humanitarian assistance to the people of Myanmar.

Imprint of Vietnam

The success of ASEAN in 2021 also recognizes the significant and substantial contribution of Vietnam. Many initiatives proposed by Vietnam during the 2020 Chairmanship Year continued to be implemented and have made progress.

Vietnam continues to actively and proactively participate and contribute responsibly to the common work of ASEAN, and coordinate with the President of Brunei to promote the priorities of 2021, especially on COVID-19 response, review implementing of the ASEAN Charter, building the ASEAN Community Vision after 2025 and promoting the role of ASEAN in sub-regional cooperation.

Speeches by Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh while attending the 38th and 39th ASEAN Summits and conferences with partner countries on a new strategy with a universal approach to safe adaptation, flexible response and effective control of the COVID-19 pandemic, in parallel with accelerating socio-economic recovery and development has been applauded by member countries. 

Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh on April 24, 2021 attended the ASEAN Leaders’ Meeting in Jacarta, Indonesia, at the invitation of the Chair of ASEAN in 2021, Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah of Brunei. Photo: Duong Giang/VNA

SPrime Minister Pham Minh Chinh attended and delivered a keynote speech at the opening of the ASEAN High-Level Forum on Sub-Regional Cooperation for Sustainable Development and Inclusive Growth on November 30, 2021. Photo: Duong Giang/VNA

The China-ASEAN Expo (CAEXPO) and the 18th China-ASEAN Business and Investment Summit (CABIS) opened on September 10 in Nanning, China. Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Le Van Thanh attended the event via video conference. Photo: Manh Cuong/VNA

Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN for ASEAN Political Security Community Robert Matheus Michael Tene and Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN for Community and Corporate Affairs Tran Duc Binh on February 15, 2021 took office for the 2021-2024 tenure. Photo: ASEAN Secretariat

A new National Assembly (NA) building in Laos, a gift presented by the Vietnamese Party, State and people to their Lao counterparts, was handed over to Laos at a ceremony held in Vientiane on August 8, 2021. Photo: Pham Kien/VNA

Vietnam's renewable energy has developed impressively that no other country in Southeast Asia has. So far, the output has reached over 17,000MW. Photo: VNA 

At the ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF) 2022, themed “a Community of Peace and Shared Future” in Sihanoukville, Cambodia, from January 18 – 20, in Da Lat in the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong was one of the three cities in Vietnam to receive the ASEAN Clean Tourist City Award. Photo: Nguyen Dung/VNA

ASEAN's foreign policy mark in 2021 must include the establishment of comprehensive strategic partnerships with China and Australia.

Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh also emphasized that, in the current difficult context, the value of solidarity, core values ​​and strength of ASEAN during the past 54 years, associated with the responsibility and constructive spirit of all ASEAN members should be promoted. It helps ASEAN have a unified voice, promoting the central role and prestige of ASEAN.

Cambodia has assumed the rotating Chairmanship of ASEAN for 2022. Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen has pledged to direct the efforts of all ASEAN countries to the implementation of important tasks, especially the process of building a fair, strong and comprehensive ASEAN Community in line with ASEAN’s key spirit of “One Vision, One Entity and One Community.”

Story: Phong Thu Photos: VNA Translated by Nguyen Tuoi

ASEAN Sees a Significant Surge in Goods Exports

ASEAN Sees a Significant Surge in Goods Exports

After a challenging and turbulent 2023 for the global economy, the dawn of 2024 brings renewed optimism for ASEAN nations. The region is witnessing a significant uptick in trade activities, spurred by a global market recovery and a substantial increase in export orders.