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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs           15   August  2011

Asean integration backed by Vietnam

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Economic integration with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is an important part of Vietnam's foreign policy and the country is committed to helping build a strong Asean Economic Community.

This was the message delivered by the nation's delegation to the 43rd Asean Economic Ministers Meeting (AEM-43) that took place in Indonesia last week.

The two-day conference of trade ministers reviewed recent progress in investment and in trade in goods and services during the economic integration process.

They also noted the intensive reform developments made in changing the ASEAN Charter, the Master Plan for the Asean Economic Community and the strategic roadmap for the implementation of the Asean Economic Community by 2015.

The ministers reached consensus on focusing resources to develop the third pillar of equal development in the master plan on the ASEAN Economic Community, paying attention to implementation of programs within the framework of the ASEAN Integration Initiative (IAI),the development and assistance of small – and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), boosting cooperation in the protection of intellectual property rights and devising policies, in fair competition, consumer protection and regional trade statistics.

The ministers noted the negotiation and implementation of Free Trade Agreements between Asean and its dialogue partners, including China, South Korea, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and India.

They assigned senior officials to build models of economic cooperation between ASEAN and its partners with priority given to trade in goods. The model would lay the groundwork for a common rule under which Asean plays the leading role, maintaining an equal and proactive relationship with its partners.

The ministers also participated on Friday in the 13th Ministerial Meeting of the ASEAN-Mekong Basin Development Co-operation in Manado, Indonesia, where they considered the implementation of development projects in the Mekong River basin.

Of 51 planned projects, 37 were under way at different levels of implementation, while the other 14 were seeking funding totalling US$272.5 million. The projects cover infrastructure, trade and investment, agriculture and forestry, mining, industry, tourism, human resources development, and science and technology.

With the deputy secretary general of China's National Development and Reform Commission, Pumin Li, participating in the meeting, the ministers emphasised the need for coordinated implementation of the Singapore-Kunming Rail Link project and the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity, encouraging the Special Working Group of the rail project to coordinate closely with the ASEAN Connectivity Coordinating Committee.

Japan and five Mekong River countries have agreed to cooperate on cross-border energy security in light of power shortages in some parts of Southeast Asia.

The agreement, reached at yesterday's meeting, states their intention of building transnational power networks and a system for mutual supply of electricity in the Greater Mekong Sub-Region covering Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam.

At the meeting, Japan also proposed studying the actual conditions of electricity supply in the region.

The ministers agreed to draw up a timetable for major projects in an action plan worked out last year to enhance the region's economic infrastructure by their next annual meeting so as to accelerate progress.

They also confirmed that the countries will take better advantage of private-public partnerships to build infrastructure, from the planning stages through to completion.

The 25th ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) Council Meeting and the 14th ASEAN Investment Area Council Meeting also took place this past week on the sidelines of the 43rd AEM.

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