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Government bodies discuss ASEAN cooperation

A conference on Vietnam’s performance across three pillars of the ASEAN Community took place in Hanoi on December 26, gathering 100 representatives from ministries and sectors involved in cooperative activities with the bloc.

Chairing the event, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh asked participating agencies to put forth measures to enhance effectiveness of the country’s cooperation in the framework of ASEAN based on reviewing past activities. .

He also required the ministries and sectors to propose plans and specific roadmaps for Vietnam to take over the rotating ASEAN chairmanship in 2020.

Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh said ASEAN economic cooperation, which puts the bloc at the centre of comprehensive ties expansion with dialogue partners, has brought about practical outcomes.

He however, pointed to challenges facing the bloc in this regard, including rising protectionism, lesser attention given to multilateral cooperation compared to bilateral ones, and a lack of spearheaded products to make joint economic plans meet their goals.

On behalf of agencies engaged in ASEAN cultural and social cooperation, Deputy Minister of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Dao Hong Lan said ASEAN has made remarkable progress in building a people-centred community working for improvement of residents’ living standards.

She suggested more attention be given to raising ASEAN awareness among the public and enhancing personnel’s capacity.

The conference heard Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyen Quoc Dung, also head of the Vietnam ASEAN Senior Officials' Meeting (SOM), presenting an overview on ASEAN collaboration and Vietnam’s involvement in the bloc, and representatives of participating ministries reporting about their work in specific fields.

Participants agreed Vietnam’s 22-year participation in ASEAN cooperation has brought about significant benefits in building a peaceful and secured environment for economic development, sovereignty protection, and international integration. At the same time, Vietnam should address difficulties in awareness, resources, and coordination mechanisms among local agencies in order to promote the cooperation.

Concluding the conference, Deputy PM Minh requested ministries and sectors involved to come up with specific measures to boost awareness on the importance of ASEAN, shake-up their apparatus and human resources, and build cooperative plans for different areas.

He urged the building of draft amendments to the working and coordination protocol for Vietnamese agencies and sectors involved in ASEAN cooperation and capacity improvement of the Vietnam ASEAN National Secretariat.

He assigned relevant agencies to work with the Foreign Ministry in proposing measures and initiatives for the 2020 ASEAN chairmanship of Vietnam.