Deputy PM’s remarks at 27th International Conference on the Future of Asia

Vietnam's Standing Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh on May 26 attended and delivered his remarks at the 27th International Conference on the Future of Asia in Tokyo, Japan.

The following is the full text of the remarks.

Mr. Tsuyoshi HASEBE, President and CEO of Nikkei Inc.

Distinguished leaders,

Ladies and gentlemen,

I am greatly honored to address the 27th International Conference on The Future of Asia, under the theme of "Redefining Asia's role in a divided world". I applaud Nikkei's initiative to convene this Conference, which provides a prestigious forum for policy exchanges, contributing to strengthening regional cooperation, and fulfilling the goal of prosperity and development for this continent and the world at large.

Asia amidst historical and profound changes

Ladies and gentlemen,

As we enter the third decade of the 21st century, Asia is witnessing historical and profound changes. Against such backdrop, we are faced with critical decisions, and intertwined and great opportunities and challenges, which may leave lasting impact upon future generations. Never before have the duality nature of and differences in the region and the world been so complicated and unpredictable. We can identify four primary trends with far-reaching developments.

- First, the 4th Industrial Revolution has paved the way for a new development chapter for mankind, providing ample opportunities for breakthrough developments. Such is the digital era. The global economy is undergoing a fundamental transition, with novel economic models. The space for the global economy has been expanded to an unprecedented scale. Reform and innovation are prominent, with a new mindset and model for development, business and management that are closely associated with the digital economy, and sustainable, inclusive, green and balanced growth.

On the other hand, the 4th Industrial Revolution has also brought about new and multidimensional challenges, from the widening development gap, the risk of being outdated and inequality to other social issues. Development challenges are increasingly prevalent, and are global in nature. 

- Second, while peace, cooperation, connectivity and development remain the prevailing trends, we are currently faced with increasing strategic competition, internal conflicts, and the risk of division and confrontation. On the one hand, multi-level linkages are increasingly expanded in depth and breadth, ranging from FTAs to economic and trade ties to digital economy and digital technology. On the other hand, geostrategic and geopolitical competition are intensifying across multiple areas, protectionism is increasing, and present circumstances are becoming more unstable and unpredictable.

- Third, the present balance of power is rapidly shifting towards a multicentre model, in which Asia will continue to be an integral economic, political and technological hub in the world. As our region enjoys the harmonious resonance of fundamental global values, and constitutes the intersection of trade flows, capital flows, infrastructures and peoples, Asia thus possesses important foundations for growth. The 21st century is also considered to be the "Asian Century."

- Fourth, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about a global crisis, causing far-reaching consequences at national, regional and international level, and accelerating major shifts which had emerged since the 2008 - 2009 crisis.

The pandemic has exposed systematic issues facing Asia, such as development gap, institution, infrastructure, technology, and supply chain. There are also management, healthcare and social challenges, natural disaster, environmental pollution, and climate change. In addition, the pandemic has also forced us to review our development mindset, with greater priority given to new and sustainable development drivers, among which digital transformation and green transition are key factors.

These trends and challenges have fostered new drivers to unite Asia in offering a collective response.

It can be said that the next 10 to 20 years constitute a critical period for the transition in Asia and the world as a whole.

In this context, the Conference today provides a great opportunity to exchange views on Asia's role in a turbulent world.

Asia's responsibilities in the evolving situation

Ladies and gentlemen,

For over nearly three decades since the first International Conference on The Future of Asia, our continent has witnessed a myriad of profound challenges and shifts, particularly the regional financial crisis in 1997 - 1998, the global economic and financial crisis in 2008 - 2009, and the COVID-19 pandemic. After each crisis, Asia not only managed to collectively overcome all hurdles, but also emerged ever stronger. According to the forecast between now and 2030, our region will continue to be the fastest-growing area, and our share in the global GDP will increase from 45% to over 50%.

At present, the most important question at hand is: What should Asian countries do to bolster cooperation, maintain regional prosperity, and elevate Asia's role in global efforts toward recovery and development?

To that end, I wish to raise the following points:

First and foremost, Asia needs to play a greater role in maintaining and fostering a peaceful and stable environment conducive to development and prosperity in the region and beyond, on the shared basis of cooperation, understanding, trust and responsibility. Through the lessons accumulated over the past 75 years, it can be affirmed that development, independence, and economic self-reliance cannot be achieved without safeguarding peace, stability and cooperation.

Ensuring a peaceful environment in Asia over the past years was not a simple accomplishment. Such peace owed much to the resolve, unity and joint efforts of all nations in the region. Peace always remains as the prerequisite for the development of all countries, and lays the solid groundwork for cooperation across the board, from politic and economic ties to socio-cultural collaboration within Asia, and between Asia and other partners worldwide.

As the region and the world are focusing resources on addressing urgent and unprecedented obstacles, countries ought to, above all else, make responsible contributions to these joint efforts. It is necessary to uphold mutual respect, and engage in fair and mutually beneficial cooperation.

In the region, territorial disputes at sea continue to threaten peace and security. Regarding the East Sea, or the South China Sea, it is necessary to peacefully settle disputes and conflicts in line with the rule of law, particularly the Charter of the United Nations and the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS 1982). Countries also need to build upon multilateral cooperation arrangements, fully and effectively implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), and strive to complete a substantive and effective Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC) that is in line with international law, so as to maintain peace, cooperation, and freedom of navigation and overflight in the region.  

Second, more than ever before, Asia needs to be a pioneer in upholding multilateralism, and promoting cooperation in an open, inclusive, fair, sustainable and rules-based manner. We need to adopt a global approach to resolve increasingly urgent global issues. We need to bolster cooperation and build trust among Asian countries, and enhance our resilience and responsiveness amid rapid changes. At this juncture, all countries need to put aside differences and stand united to support each other.

Accordingly, more than ever before, we need to enhance the complementary nature of regional cooperation arrangements and linkages, and establish a grid of regional networks.

Only by sharing common objectives and standing shoulder-to-shoulder in taking bold action can we overcome challenges and yielded excellent effectiveness in our collaboration. This is the consistent position of ASEAN countries, and has been realized by ASEAN's active efforts in bolstering its partnerships and ties, and upholding its centrality in its relations with major powers within and outside the region, so as to contribute to ensuring peace, security, stability, cooperation and development, and addressing global development challenges.

In this globalization era, the establishment of a self-reliant economy does not mean fostering a closed economy. On the contrary, this entails creating an open and integrated market economy that is closely associated with the world, with a view to harmoniously harnessing domestic and external resources. The effective implementation of free trade agreements, such as the CPTPP, RCEP, and other cooperation frameworks, will create more drivers of economic recovery and growth in Asia and the world. In addition, in order to make the most of opportunities provided by regional connectivity, countries need to put in place and further improve a system of strategic infrastructure, such as seaports, logistics, roads, and flight routes. It is also necessary to step up people-to-people exchange via the promotion of tourism and socio-cultural ties. 

We do hope that international financial organizations will continue to support Asian countries in terms of capital, wisdom, and capacity building in these processes.

Third, we need to work closely together to ensure the necessary foundation for growth recovery in all countries and Asia at large, thereby ensuring Asia's role as a key driver for global development. Asia is the largest regional economy in the world, and the convergence of regional economic networks and FTAs. As Asia enjoys the harmonious resonance of fundamental global values, and constitutes the intersection of trade flows, capital flows, infrastructures and peoples, this region thus possesses important foundations for growth.

Asia also enjoys a myriad of advantages, as it is a self-reliant and innovative region that is united in diversity, with complementary economies of great potential in terms of technology and capital. It also encompasses both large-scale and emerging economies, with a young workforce and long-term development prospect.

To this end, we need to step up national development efforts and bolster cooperation to address emerging challenges, restore regional and international supply chains, establish a self-reliant economy that is closely associated with international integration and resilient against external shocks. We should also coordinate to tackle emerging global challenges.

Fourth, as a region leading in digital technology and transformation, Asia needs to take the lead in creating and promoting new drivers for growth. Stepping up cooperation in science-technology, digital technology, including the development of digital government, digital economy, and digital society, will drive the growth of Asia in the post-pandemic period. Advancing green, sustainable development, and mobilizing green finance for development, with a view to ensuring fairness and justice in green transformation, will enable the economies of countries and the region to grow in an ecologically balanced manner and address issues related to the environment and climate change. We must cooperate and transfer technology to realize a net-zero growth model and sustainably manage natural resources.

We need to encourage entrepreneurship, manage risks, and build incubators for innovative and breakthrough initiatives and ideas. The SME sector should be given more attention and favorable conditions in terms of institution, resources, and capacity. This will allow the sector to become a robust driver for internal power, in addition to the State's resources and foreign capital inflow.

Fifth, Asia needs to enhance integration and connectivity with other regions and key partners in the world. The recent success in development has shown that a network of multi-center and multi-level linkages is one of the instrumental factors contributing to Asia's dynamic and resilient growth.

We should step up cooperation, integration and economic linkages in an equitable and effective manner across bilateral and multilateral channels in order to ensure the flow of trade and investment, and global supply chains. The post-pandemic recovery of Asia will depend greatly on the ability to maintain trade and investment within the bloc as well as with other regions.  

Japan's role in the new century and the potential of Vietnam – Japan relations

Ladies and gentlemen,

As a leading economy of the world, a top market and investor of the region, Japan's development plays a tremendously important role in Asia's prosperity. Japan's road to peaceful development is one of the indispensable and constructive elements contributing to peace and stability in the region. Japan has pioneered initiatives and is a pivotal link in regional and global economic linkages and value chains. Japan's ODA, cooperation in science-technology, infrastructure, and human resources have been an effective assistance to other countries.

Japan is among the leading countries in digital transformation, green transformation, supply chain recovery, and cooperation in trade and investment. We welcome the initiative from Prime Minister Fumio Kishida's administration to invest in ASEAN, focusing on supply chain, connectivity, digital innovation and human resources.

Given its potential and contributions, Japan has proved deserving of a greater role in Asia and the world.

Vietnam and Japan are extensive, trusted strategic partners of one another. Over nearly 50 years, both sides have made efforts to achieve outstanding growth in bilateral ties. Vietnam and Japan also share many interests. The two sides enjoy great potential in terms of complementarity and mutual support, and shared interests in maintaining peace, stability, and advancing cooperation, connectivity, and sustainable development in Asia and the world.

Vietnam's vision and development policy

Ladies and gentlemen,

Vietnam has stepped into a new strategic era of comprehensive reforms and actively taken part in the 4th Industrial Revolution and extensive international integration. With high aspirations, by 2025, Vietnam strives to be a developing country with a modern industrial base, having graduated from the low-middle income group. By 2030, Vietnam aims to be a modern industrialized developing country with upper-middle income, and by 2045, a developed country with high income.

In terms of directions for national development, firstly, Vietnam pursues rapid and sustainable development on the basis of science, technology, innovation, and digital transformation, and a green, circular, and environment-friendly economy. Secondly, the people are regarded as the center, subject, goal and driver for development. Thirdly, Vietnam strives for a progressive and fair society, and a healthy and civilized cultural environment and social morality.

Desiring to realize an environment of peace and stability in Asia and the world, Vietnam enacts the foreign policy of independence, self-reliance, diversification and multilateralization of relations, proactive international integration, and seeks to uphold multilateralism. Vietnam continues to be a friend and reliable partner, an active and responsible member of the international community. Vietnam has made a very strong commitment at the COP26 in order to share in the responsibility of green and sustainable development. As the world is facing challenges in food security, Vietnam continues to maintain and bolster the production of agricultural and food products.

Ladies and gentlemen,  

The world is at a turning point, and the decision of today will shape the next chapter in our development. I am confident that, given its tremendous potential, Asia will play a greater role to overcome challenges and make due contributions to peace and prosperity in the region and the world, for the bright future of each country and people in the region and the world.

I wish our Conference every success.

Arigatou gozaimasu.