Masamoto Kenichi, who is in charge of the OECD, spoke highly of the role of Southeast Asian nations in the world’s economic growth, saying that they are indispensible in the OECD structure to maintain effective, legal and interactive operation of an international organisation.
|Deputy Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son
Therefore, the OECD considered the regional nations its potential members, and initiated the Southeast Asia Regional Programme (SEARP) in 2014, he said, adding that the interest in the OECD among ASEAN nations is growing.
Deputy Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son, who led the Vietnamese delegation to the event, said ASEAN nations should continue giving priorities to boosting economic integration via bilateral and regional free trade agreements.
The SEARP aims to support ASEAN nations’ economic reform and integration, has seen numerous positive outcomes. The OECD has shared its experience, knowledge and advised policies for ASEAN nations in investment, infrastructure, small- and medium-sized enterprises, education-training, among others, Son said.
He suggested ASEAN countries improve their business environments to encourage the private sector to join in infrastructure development, while strengthening their digital connectivity, investing in human resources to take opportunities and benefits of the fourth industrial revolution (4.0).
Son also called on ASEAN countries to enhance their cooperation to mitigate challenges facing skilled labourers shifting among them, promote gender equality, women’s progress via facilitating their access to education, training, employment, and social resources.
During the conference, themed Inclusive ASEAN, participants discussed challenges and opportunities posed during the economic integration and sustainable and inclusive development in Southeast Asia.
The event highlighted the important role of SEARP in creating favourable conditions for ASEAN’s regional integration, supporting reform priorities in ASEAN member nations, and bringing them closer to the OECD.
It also affirmed the strategic significance of connectivity between the OECD and ASEAN via SEARP and acknowledged the progresses SEARP has gained over the past tenure co-chaired by Japan and Indonesia.
Thailand and the Republic of Korea will co-chair SEARP in the 2018-2021 term.