Officially becoming the ASEAN Community on December 31, 2015, the group is currently continuing to implement orientations and initiatives to develop an ASEAN of self-reliance, creativity and sustainable development amid quick changes in the region and the world.
The ASEAN was established on August 8, 1967, in Bangkok by the five member countries, namely Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. Brunei joined in 1984, Vietnam in 1995, Laos and Myanmar in 1997, and Cambodia in 1999.
The regional bloc has entered the 4th year of implementing the ASEAN Community Vision 2025, with a focus on implementing master plans in all the three pillars of politics-security, economy and culture-society; expanding and deepening foreign relations, strengthening ASEAN's central role in the shaping the regional structure; strengthening connectivity and narrowing the development gap through the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity (MPAC) 2025 and the 3rd period Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI)’s work plan.
In his recent speech at the recent 52nd ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM-52) in Bangkok, Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh praised the results of the 4-year implementation of the ASEAN Community Vision 2025, calling on the ASEAN to continue promoting intra-bloc solidarity and cooperation and maintaining its central role in external relations, thus effectively responding to rapid shifts in regional and global strategic aspect.
He proposed the ASEAN to conduct mid-term review of master plans to build the Community, increase intra-regional trade and investment, and promote social cooperation, and environmental protection.
Delegates to the meeting affirmed their determination to fully and effectively implement the ASEAN Community Vision 2025, and continue to implement orientations and initiatives to build an ASEAN of self-reliance, creativity and sustainable development.
The meeting also touched upon recent issues related to the East Sea, especially Chinese geological survey vessel group Haiyang Dizhi 8’s activities in Vietnam’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) continental shelf, which has caused concerns in the international community.
Ministers expressed deep concern about recent developments in the sea, emphasizing the importance of maintaining peace, stability, security, safety, freedom of navigation and aviation in the sea; asking for the compliance with international law, especially the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea; and calling on relevant parties to restrain and strictly implement the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC) towards reaching an effective and practical Code of Conduct (COC) in the East Sea at an early date.
Minh’s statement at the meeting on this matter was very frank, sincere and based on a constructive and friendly spirit, and that is why it received sharing and support from many countries.
So far, the ASEAN has achieved encouraging results on all the three pillars. The economic growth of ASEAN member countries continued to be stable, with GDP in 2019 expected to reach 4.9 percent, and the group’s total GDP is estimated at 3 trillion USD.
In 2019, the ASEAN focuses on improving the capacity to handle security challenges such as terrorism, transnational crime and cyber security; increasing diplomatic capacity to promote border management, marine, diplomatic and defence cooperation, and sustainable security.
It has also paid attention to digitalising economy, adapting to the fourth industrial revolution, strengthening connectivity, facilitating trade, services, investment, and sustainable economic development, completing negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), and connecting regional initiatives.
The ASEAN promotes people-oriented cooperation and ensures human security, through cooperation programmes on social welfare, environmental protection, disaster management and response to climate change, promoting lifelong education, upholding ASEAN cultural identity, promoting cooperation to adapt to population aging, and developing human resources.
Additionally, the ASEAN continues to implement an open foreign policy, striving to maintain a balanced and mutually beneficial cooperation with its partners, proactively consolidating mechanisms initiated and chaired by the group, contributing to strengthening open, transparent, and rule-based regional structures with the ASEAN playing a central role.
Since officially joining the ASEAN on July 28, 1995, Vietnam has made important contributions to the bloc’s growth and development, actively contributing to the process of expanding and completing ideas on the ASEAN cooperation.
Vietnam has cooperated with member countries to build important orientations and decisions of the ASEAN such as the ASEAN Vision 2020 (1997) and the ASEAN Vision 2025 (2015); the Hanoi Action Programme (1998); the Declaration of ASEAN Concord II (2003), the ASEAN Charter (2007), the Roadmap for the ASEAN Community (2009-2015), the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity, and the Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI) on narrowing development gap.
As a responsible member of the ASEAN, Vietnam has also successfully undertaken important rotary missions in the group, including the host of the 6th ASEAN Summit (1998), the Chair of the ASEAN Standing Committee (2000-2001) and the Chair of the ASEAN (2010). It served as an active coordinator of the relations between ASEAN and key partners such as the US, Russia, the EU, India and Japan.
Vietnam has also made important contributions to forming, expanding and consolidating institutions led by the ASEAN such as the East Asia Summit (EAS) and the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting Plus (ADMM+).
Vietnam always upholds solidarity and unity in the ASEAN, builds and promotes the value of regional security tools and mechanisms, fosters confidence building and sharing of regional norms of conduct, strengthening ASEAN's central role through mechanisms and forums chaired by the bloc.
As one of the two countries with the highest rate of the implementation of commitments in the master plan of building the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), 95.5 percent, second only to Singapore, Vietnam has also actively promoted the development and implementation of intra-bloc economic cooperation agreements as well as between the ASEAN and its partners; and contributed cooperation initiatives in supporting small, medium and micro enterprises, trade facilitation, e-commerce development, strengthening connectivity and narrowing development gap in the ASEAN.
Vietnam has actively participated in and proposed practical cooperation initiatives targeting the people, in terms of social welfare, support for venerable people, education, health and disease prevention, environmental protection and climate change response.
Speaking at a ceremony to launch the National ASEAN 2020 Committee, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc highlighted Vietnam's important role as the ASEAN Chair in 2020, saying that this is both responsibility and opportunity for the country to enhance its position and role in the region and the international arena.
Regarding the issue, Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyen Quoc Dung, Secretary General of the National ASEAN 2020 Committee, said that Vietnam will do its utmost to maintain ASEAN's development momentum, and lead ASEAN to become stronger, thus increasing prestige and role of the bloc in the region.