ASEAN Economic Community – Opportunities and Challenges

Tuesday, 2017-08-01 05:04:20
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Delegates at the conference (Photo: baoquocte.vn)
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NDO – Nearly 200 delegates from home and abroad have analysed opportunities and challenges facing Vietnamese businesses during their integration into the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). These important topics were discussed at a recent conference held in Hanoi in July by Vietnam’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Economic Research Institute for ASEAN and East Asia (ERIA) as part of activities to mark the 50th anniversary of ASEAN.

On this occasion, Nhan Dan Newspaper would like to introduce to readers some opinions shared by participants at the event.

Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Nguyen Quoc Dung: The Government creates favourable business integration for Vietnam.

The AEC, which is one of the major pillars of the ASEAN Community, is designed to create the most favourable conditions for businesses in the bloc to receive access to four key characteristics of capital, technology, market and labour.

Vietnamese businesses are now somehow lagging behind their colleagues in other ASEAN countries in regards to seizing opportunities brought by the AEC. Vietnamese businesses have shown certain limitations in economic integration process due to lack of experience and foreign language skills.

In my opinion, the Vietnamese business community needs to turn challenges into opportunities while engaging in the AEC. The Vietnamese Government has fostered its integration into the region and the world in order to create more favourable opportunities for the country’s businesses. I believe that AEC will support Vietnamese business to achieve improved integration.

Secretary-General of ASEAN Le Luong Minh: ASEAN continues accelerating its integration

Over the past decade, the service sector in ASEAN has been liberated. ASEAN has made significant progresses in its regional integration and is currently one of the regional associations that have the largest number of trade agreements. It is also negotiating for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), which is expected to open a vast space for trade and investment, not only in Southeast Asia, but also in the entire Pacific region.

The bloc has also agreed with Canada and the Eurasian Economic Union on the possibility to formulate free trade agreements.

The world has witnessed emerging protectionism and anti-globalization trends which have originated from major countries across the world. This poses a real challenge for both Vietnam and ASEAN.

In spite of these trends, ASEAN will continue to integrate and create favourable conditions for regional businesses. During their regional integration, the businesses should place priorities on enhancing the qualifications and foreign language skills of their labour forces in order to turn challenges into opportunities.

ERIA President, Professor Hidetoshi Nishimura: Impulse for Vietnam to maintain sustainable development

ASEAN is now the second largest trading partner of Vietnam with an average growth rate of 14.5% over the past decade and is also Vietnam's third largest market and third largest supplier of goods. It is Vietnam’s most important foreign direct investment provider with total registered capital of US$ 64 billion and a bridge for multi-national companies based in ASEAN to invest in the country.

ASEAN-invested projects in Vietnam mainly focus on production, processing and manufacturing. The trading partner has become one of the impulses helping Vietnam maintain its sustainable economic growth rate.

As ASEAN has been established as the world’s seventh largest economy, Vietnam is now provided with vast opportunities from the establishment of the AEC. Businesses should expand their operation in the ASEAN market, renovate their operation, and gain information about the AEC. By thoroughly grasping the situation of the AEC and ASEAN in general, Vietnamese businesses will integrate into the region and the world market more effectively.

Hirotoshi Ito, Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO) Vietnam is seen as a bridge boosting Japan-ASEAN trade cooperation

Vietnamese enterprises have not yet fully integrated into the AEC. The key is information dissemination. Vietnamese Government should encourage businesses to use the benefit of AEC more. These businesses at the same time should communicate more with the Government so that they can raise their voice to ASEAN and express what they want from the AEC. They should know what is happening in the AEC and be informed concerning the benefits of the AEC. I think better communication with the Government is the key to Vietnamese businesses’ integration into the AEC.

Japanese businesses have fostered cooperation with ASEAN businesses, targeting for deeper, more diversified and more integrated. Vietnam is now one of the most attractive environments in ASEAN. JETRO has two offices in Vietnam to support Japanese businesses in ASEAN. The Vietnamese business environment has been improved, but there are some difficulties facing foreign investors, like the procedure issue and administrative issue.

Concerning more than trade, Vietnam and Japan has not only tightened their cooperation locally, but Japanese companies in ASEAN have seen Vietnam as an important trade partner and a bridge fostering Japan-ASEAN trade cooperation.

Dr Rebecca Fatima Sta Maria, ERIA: Small and medium-seized enterprises – Impulse for AEC

To have the AEC come into reality, there are many things that need to be done. Governments in ASEAN region must have policies and regulations to make it easier to do business so that more companies can establish and grow. The policies and regulations should also facilitate the investment into ASEAN because investment will bring technology and jobs. The Governments should make their policies and regulations transparent and consistent across ASEAN.

The Government should also work with small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) so that they can receive benefits from the AEC, increase their productivity and enhance their creativity. As the SMEs are impulses to boost the development of the regional economy, they should prompt feedbacks to the Governments on how to make sound policies, laws and regulations. These feedbacks also help the Government to better manage the business communities.

There are many Vietnamese businesses operating in ASEAN nations such as Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia and Brunei for deeper integration, Vietnamese businesses should develop their awareness on the opportunities provided by the AEC, and increase the sharing of information and experience, and also improve their communications in international businesses in English.