|ASEAN Foreign Ministers at their 51st Meeting in Singapore (AMM 51) (Photo: AFP/VNA)
At these conferences, foreign ministers of ASEAN member states and partners reviewed their cooperation in the past year, and discussed specific orientations for the future.
The partners showed their support for ASEAN’s efforts to build the community, intensify connectivity, and narrow development gap, as well as its priorities to build a resilient and innovative ASEAN in 2018.
They agreed on the need to expand cooperation to new fields such as innovation development, e-commerce, digital economy, and smart city to take advantage of benefits offered by technology advance and the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
They appreciated the role of ASEAN in the region and affirmed to back the bloc’s central role in a regional structure that is open, transparent, inclusive and legally binding, through ASEAN-led mechanisms, including ASEAN Plus Three, East Asia Summit (EAS), ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), and ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus.
The partners also expressed their sympathy over the losses caused by natural disasters and incidents in region, including the dam collapse in Laos, and confirmed to continue providing assistance for affected countries.
Regarding the regional and global situation, the ministers pledged to step up cooperation to effectively respond to challenges threatening peace, security and stability in the region. They welcomed positive progress in the Korean Peninsula, while sharing concern over developments in the East Sea with militarisation activities which are eroding trust and harming peace and stability in the region.
The ministers reaffirmed the importance of maintaining peace, stability, aviation and navigation security, safety and freedom in the East Sea, stressing the need to solve all disputes by peaceful means on the basis of international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. They agreed on the need of the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea (DOC) and more efforts to early complete the formation of an effective, practical, and legally-binding Code of Conduct in the East Sea (COC).
At the ASEAN-Japan Post-Ministerial Conference, the participating officials said that the ASEAN-Japan strategic partnership has developed strongly over the past 45 years, bringing about benefits to each side’s people, and contributing to peace and stability in the region. The two sides acknowledged positive progresses in carry out a revised plan on the implementation of the Vision Statement on ASEAN-Japan Friendship and Cooperation, which has contributed to expanding trade and investment, stepping up human and infrastructure connectivity, and tightening cooperation in responding to non-traditional security challenges.
They reached a consensus on strengthening cooperation in fighting terrorism and trans-national crime, ensuring cyber security, and in sea-related issues, as well as coordinating in boosting economic linkages and supporting a fair, free and legally binding trade system. The sides also agreed to soon complete negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), step up technology application in innovation, regional connectivity and sustainable development in sub-regions, improve climate change adaptation, and intensify cultural and people-to-people exchanges.
They vowed to coordinate closely in organising a Commemorative Summit in celebration of the 45th anniversary of the bilateral partnership in November so as to deepen ties.
The conference concluded with the transfer of the role as a coordinator for the ASEAN-Japan relations for 2018-2021 from Brunei to Vietnam.
At the ASEAN-China Post-Ministerial Conference, officials defined 2018 as an important milestone marking the 15 years of the ASEAN-China strategic partnership, affirming that China remains one of the most important partners of ASEAN. The sides acknowledged the positive developments in the bilateral relations, including efforts to start negotiations and reach a single draft document on the COC. They affirmed commitment to intensifying intensive and extensive collaboration in issues of common concern and interests, while hoping that high-leevel leaders will approve a vision orienting the ASEAN-China relation by 2030.
Participants stressed the need to raise two-way trade to US$1 trillion and investment to US$150 billion by 2020, upgrade the ASEAN-China Free Trade Agreement, and closely coordinate in RCEP negotiations. They also showed their backing for an open and rule-based trade system and intensifying regional connectivity, reflected through China’s implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and its support for the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity 2025.
Both sides were unanimous in intensifying cooperation in innovation, consolidating mutual trust and understanding, and boosting cooperation in response to regional security challenges, including the holding of the first ASEAN-China Maritime Drill later this year. They affirmed to continue cultural and people-to-people exchanges to connect their peoples.
Concluding the conference, Singapore handed over the role of coordinating the ASEAN-China Dialogue Partnership for the 2018-2021 period to the Philippines.
At the ASEAN-Russia Post-Ministerial Conference, the two sides acknowledged progress in the implementation of the 2016-2020 ASEAN-Russia Comprehensive Plan of Action and the outcomes of the Commemorative Summit in Sochi in 2016.
ASEAN member states congratulated Russia for successfully holding Football World Cup 2018, and welcomed the country’s establishment of its Mission and sending of an Ambassador to ASEAN, as well as the organisation of the first ASEAN-Russia Think-Tank Network (NARTT) in April in Moscow and efforts to form a working group on education.
Both sides agreed to step up all-round cooperation in the political-security, economic and socio-culture pillars, including human connectivity, with priority given to the cooperation on the fight against terrorism and extremism as well as in cyber security, trade, investment, development of micro, small- and medium-sized enterprises, innovation, agriculture, energy, education, and tourism.
At the conference, Laos transferred the role of the coordinator for ASEAN-Russia relations for 2018-2021 to Indonesia.
ASEAN member states also welcomed New Zealand’s implementation of its People Strategy and Prosperity Strategy in order to enhance its ties with ASEAN. The two sides agreed to review the second phase to upgrade the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement, while continuing to intensify economic linkages within the framework of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, and the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and in negotiations of the RCEP.
The two sides reached a consensus on stepping up cooperation in new fields such as renewable energy, infrastructure development, aviation, digital economy, agriculture and fishery.
ASEAN countries voiced their backing for New Zealand’s initiative to cooperate with Indonesia in plastic waste prevention at sea, and agreed to strengthen collaboration in maritime security at ASEAN-led mechanisms.
The conference witnessed Indonesia’s transfer of the role as a coordinator for the ASEAN-New Zealand relations for 2018-2021 to Cambodia.
Speaking at these events, Deputy PM and FM Pham Binh Minh affirmed that Vietnam attaches importance to and will work with other ASEAN countries in expanding and deepening multi-faceted cooperation between ASEAN and Japan, China, Russia and New Zealand.
Vietnam will actively participate in initiatives and cooperation activities, especially in the fields of its interest, such as maritime collaboration, regional connectivity, economics, trade, investment, education and training and digital economy.
He stressed the need for ASEAN and its partners to boost dialogue, cooperation and build trust in order to prevent conflicts and maintain peace, security and stability in the region.
Minh shared concern over complicated developments in the East Sea, reaffirmed the ASEAN’s agreed principles, and called on involved parties to practice self-restraint and to avoid actions that complicate the situation, intensify tensions and harm dialogue progress and cooperation in the region, including efforts to negotiate the COC.
Receiving the role as a coordinator for the ASEAN-Japan relations, he affirmed Vietnam will exert efforts to bring the ASEAN-Japan strategic partnership to a new height.