After successfully hosting the 2017 APEC Summit, the APPF-26 Economic Summit opened in Hanoi on January 18th and is making significant contributions to the nation’s diplomatic achievements. It forms part of the efforts to implement Vietnam’s foreign policy of independence, self-reliance, diversification and multilateralisation of relations, active integration into the world, maintaining a peaceful and stable environment, creating favorable conditions for national construction and protection as well as strengthening Vietnam’s position and prestige in the international arena.
More than 350 delegates from APPF member nations have registered to attend the four-day meeting. The APPF-26 is an opportunity for the Vietnamese NA to strengthen diplomatic relations and partnerships with its regional counterparts via bilateral meetings with delegations during their stay in Hanoi, including those from the world’s powers such as the US, Russia, China, Japan, Canada and Australia. The event also helps affirm the Vietnamese NA’s role and reputation at regional and international inter-parliamentary forums.
The APPF-26 is entrusted with a mission to orient member parliaments towards a shared future of bringing practical benefits to the regional countries and people. Therefore, the parliamentary mechanism also aims to boost effectiveness of the APEC forum.
According to Do Manh Hung, deputy head of the NA Office and head of the subcommittee for APPF-26 information and communications, one of the key agenda items of the APPF-26 is to directly assist the APEC by upholding the success of the APEC Economic Leaders’ Week 2017 in the central city of Da Nang.
In the framework of the event, the delegates are discussing economic cooperation in Asia-Pacific, share their views on and contribute to regional efforts toward the expansion of trade-investment engagement and sustainable development, Hung said.
They are also mulling over the parliaments’ role in boosting inclusive and extensive economic links, food security, sustainable agricultural production, gender equality and the development of micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises in the digital age, Hung said, adding that these sub-topics are closely related to the APEC meeting’s agenda.
Hosting important multilateral diplomatic events, including the APPF-26 and APEC 2017, has sent a message of Vietnam as a nation of dynamism, said NA Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, who is also Chair of APPF-26. Vietnam cares about the development of the world and pledges to join hands with the international community to implement common tasks for sustainable development, Ngan said, adding that the Vietnamese NA has paid attention to parliamentary diplomacy and contributed to development orientations of regional and international parliamentary forums.
On the sidelines of the Meeting of Women Parliamentarians, the first activity of the APPF-26, Stephenie Ritland, Attorney Advisor Federated States of Micronesia, lauded the initiatives Vietnam proposed for the event, including promoting gender equality and empowerment of women and girls for sustainable development and shared prosperity in the region, saying that this is an important topic to be included in this forum. She also hailed the proactiveness of Vietnam and its NA in hosting the APPF-26, saying that Vietnam is taking great steps moving forwards and sets a great global example with a female NA leader.
The APPF was established on March 15, 1993, with the purpose of building trust among parliaments in the Asia-Pacific via the enhancement of dialogues between regional parliamentarians, thus contributing to regional peace, sustainability and prosperity.
The forum has become an important inter-parliamentary forum which gathers 27 member parliaments, namely Australia, Cambodia, Canada, China, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Fiji, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, the Marshall Islands, Mexico, Micronesia, Mongolia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Philippines, the RoK, Russia, Singapore, Thailand, the United States, and Vietnam.
In his keynote remarks, Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue said in over half a century, the Asia – Pacific has thrived to become a driver of global economic growth, thanks in part to extensive economic linkages and making the most of the potential, advantages, and the importance of the agricultural sector and the network of micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
He noted that efforts to increase regional trade and economic integration have produce important result, including the signing and implementation of many bilateral and multilateral FTAs. “Vietnam has chosen international economic integration as the center point of its efforts to actively integrate economically,” the Deputy PM said, adding that “the success of APEC 2017 in Vietnam is also a vivid manifestation of the vitality of cooperation and regional economic integration.”
Highlighting challenges posed by rising protectionism and differing views on integration and globalization, Hue pointed to new cooperation areas such as value chains, integration, competition, e-commerce, saying they would bring about greater benefits from regional economic integration. “We should take concrete actions to improve connectivity, similar to APEC’s and ASEAN’s initiative, focusing on three priorities: infrastructure, human, and institutions. Parliaments play an important part in this process as national legislative bodies,” the official stated.
Vietnam’s Deputy Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son delivered a report on the results of the 2017 APEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting, which took place in Da Nang last November. Talking about the relationship between the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and APPF, Canadian Senator Yuen Paul Woo said to boost connectivity between the two forums, there is a need to develop a secretariat mechanism and each nation ought to put into action agendas adopted at these forums.
At the session, participants focused on economic cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region. Their debate provided a parliamentary perspective to efforts in the region targeting the expansion of trade, investment, peace, stability, prosperity and sustainable development, which revolves around the agenda of APEC Summit 2017. They talked about the role of parliaments in promoting economic links intensively and comprehensively, food security and sustainable agricultural development, and support for MSMEs in the digital age.
Nurhayati Ali Assegaf, Chairperson of Indonesia’s Committee of Inter-Parliamentary Cooperation, suggested parliaments support the promotion of people-to-people diplomacy, opening of direct air routes, and simplification of visa procedures. She said gender equality promotion could have positive impact on GDP growth, and suggested APPF members make efforts to improve the role of MSMEs and other economic sectors for extensive and equal economic integration.
Masazumi Gotoda, member of House of Representatives at the Nation Diet of Japan, said parliaments should play their inspection role to ensure the effective implementation of policies for economic growth related to currency and economic cooperation, among others.
He also suggested the building of a high-quality workforce for the digital age, and women empowerment, noting that fair competition is necessary for free trade.
Australian Senator John Williams said food security should concern the quality of soil and water, which can foster better nutrient sources that help people become healthier. He stressed the importance of sharing knowledge among nations for common benefits and prosperity.
The session approved the selection of Cambodia as host of the 27th annual meeting of the Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum scheduled for January 2019 in Siem Reap.