The ASEM High-level Policy Dialogue in commemoration of ASEM’s 25th founding anniversary was held on June 22 in Hanoi both in person and via a video call.
Running with the theme of "ASEM at 25: Strengthening Asia-Europe Partnership in a Transforming World", the dialogue is viewed as an occasion for members to discuss the orientations and vision for co-operation between Asia and Europe in the new period. It also seeks to help sustain and promote ASEM co-operation, especially amid the complicated nature of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that has caused a serious impact around the globe.
The event, held at the initiative of Vietnam, features the opening session with the participation of ministers and two panel discussions on “Asia and Europe in a resetting world” and “Shaping a vision for stronger Asia - Europe partnership”.
After engaging in ASEAM for more than two decades, the country has helped to propose and promote expansion of ASEM membership twice, together with other members, whilst adopting many important documents and decisions orienting ASEM co-operation, such as the Hanoi Declaration on Closer ASEM Economic Partnership in 2004.
The nation also hosted the ASEM Summit in 2004 and the ASEM Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in 2009. It has played an active role in five specialised co-operation groups that it is a member of, namely those on water management, natural disaster response, vocational training, education and human resources development, and technological connectivity.
Vietnam is also the country which is striving to initiate and maintain the first co-operation mechanism of ASEM, which is the sustainable development dialogue that focuses on the sustainable management of water resources and co-operation among countries traversed by the Mekong river. This therefore helped to elevate the Mekong sub-regional co-operation to the regional level in 2011.
Furthermore, the nation is also well regarded as one of the most active members in proposing and promoting new co-operation aspects, while implementing and co-sponsoring roughly 60 initiatives in different fields.
Through a range of co-operation initiatives, it has joined with other ASEM members to highlight the interests of peace, security, and stability, whilst settling urgent issues and promoting issues of common concern.
Most recently, a high-level dialogue on women’s economic empowerment amid the COVID-19 pandemic, proposed by Vietnam, took place in Hanoi in October, 2020. It was one of the most important events of ASEM last year and also the first practical activity held to realise the ASEM Foreign Ministers’ statement on COVID-19 response issued on July 9, 2020.
On the basis of ASEM co-operation, Vietnamese bilateral relations with other ASEM members have been increasingly strengthened during recent years.
ASEM members currently account for 23 of the 30 strategic and comprehensive partners of Vietnam, whilst also being partners in 15 of the 17 free trade agreements that the country has previously signed or is negotiating. They contribute to approximately 70% of foreign direct investment, 70% of foreign trade, and 80% of international visitors to the nation.
Moving forward, the country will continue co-ordinating with other ASEM members to strengthen the forum’s co-operation whilst developing an increasingly dynamic and inter-connected Asia - Europe partnership for the sake of prosperity in the two continents and the wider world.