|Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc at the plenary session of the 34th ASEAN Summit in Bangkok, Thailand, on June 22 (Photo: VGP).
The plenum, hosted by Thai PM Prayut Chan-o-cha, took place amidst numerous changes in the region and the world, including growing protectionism and fiercer competition among major nations, and the impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0) on all aspects.
In terms of politics – security, the leaders underlined the need to maintain sustainable security basing on the basic principles of the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia (TAC), ensuring the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)'s central role and making orientations for the treatment of external partners on the basis of the documents on the ASEAN’s vision on the Indo-Pacific, consolidating strategic trust and cooperation to cope with trans-national challenges, especially cyber security and border management.
On economic issues, they concurred to further strengthen intra-bloc trade and a seamless ASEAN, enhance connectivity, implement the ASEAN Single Window mechanism and the ASEAN Smart Cities Network, foster the digital economy and a digitalized ASEAN, and actively prepare for Industry 4.0.
They also consented to finalize negotiations on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) in 2019.
In respect of social and cultural issues, they decided to choose 2019 as the ASEAN Cultural Year to enhance cultural exchanges and promote the cultural identities of the grouping. The member countries will join hands in building a sustainable, people-oriented and people-centred ASEAN Community that looks towards the future and leaves no one behind, promote the mutual support between the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and cooperate to deal with marine waste and aging population.
As Vietnam will take on the ASEAN Chair next year, PM Phuc gave a speech at the plenum, appreciating the theme “Advancing Partnership for Sustainability” and the priorities proposed by Thailand during its ASEAN Chairmanship in 2019.
The ASEAN needs to place top priorities on continuing to reinforce its solidarity and cohesion, and enhancing the central role and the efficiency of ASEAN-chaired and -led regional mechanisms, Phuc said.
He urged the bloc to boost intra-economic linkages, capitalize on of the already-made commitments and signed agreements, soon conclude the RCEP talks, create a favourable business environment, improve the capacity of responding to Industry 4.0’s opportunities and challenges, and connect and develop Industry 4.0 technological centre networks.
The Vietnamese government leader also suggested the ASEAN continue stepping up cooperation in the fields that will deliver practical benefits to the people, accelerate institutional reforms, and improve the efficiency of the bloc’s apparatus.
The summit approved the ASEAN Leaders’ Vision Statement on Partnership for Sustainability, the ASEAN Leaders’ Statement on the ASEAN Cultural Year 2019, and the Bangkok Declaration on fighting maritime waste in the region.