DU THANH HUNG
Beach breezes gently blow through Vietnam’s coastal city of Da Nang as the most significant regional forum, Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (Apec) 2017 meetings are held this month.
The preparation process is in its final stages for the Economic Leaders’ Meeting, comprising more than 200 events. In attendance will be leaders, businessmen and journalists from 21 member states, whose economies make up about 60% of the world economy.
The Vietnam government is putting in great efforts to ensure its success.
The south-east Asia country has played host to this forum for the second time, after Apec Vietnam 2006, when it displayed its sincere and responsive role in supporting regional and international commitments in economic co-operation.
In the context that protectionism is showing signs of taking hold, this event will help to promote free trade, backing a fair and level playing field for business throughout the globe.
Thus, this year’s meetings will focus on promoting sustainable, innovative and inclusive growth; deepening regional economic integration; strengthening MSME (micro, small and medium enterprises) competitiveness and innovation in the digital age; and enhancing food security and sustainable agriculture in response to climate change.
With these priorities put into effect, the region and the world economy will benefit from the results.
The event will also shed more light on the Vietnamese's increasingly important position in the region, as more transparent information about the country’s resources and potential in economic co-operation are disclosed to friends and partners.
According to the World Bank, the prospect for its economic development looks even brighter as the country’s fundamental drivers of growth, resilient domestic demand and export-oriented manufacturing, remain in force.
Economic ties between Vietnam and African countries, particularly South Africa, were established years ago. More and more contracts have been negotiated and implemented through through workshops, business meetings and survey trips. In 2010, the Vietnam-South Africa Business Council was established to form a concrete platform for supporting economic co-operation.
Vietnam has a series of free trade agreements (FTAs) in place, and many others have currently been in the process of negotiating and ratifying. Investors doing business in Vietnam could be beneficial from low tariffs and hence boost exports to top markets, such as the EU, the US, Japan and Australia – cementing Vietnam’s position as a manufacturing hub. The government has taken extraordinary steps to institutionalise public-private partnerships frameworks and regulations as part of its infrastructure drive.
With a huge market of more than 90 million consumers, Vietnam shows abundant potentials for African investments/goods. In 2017, more than $23 billion (R324bn) was committed by foreign businesses in manufacturing and food processing, electricity production, and mineral mining industries, up 45% from 2016. There are many other areas that are lucrative and attractive for foreign investors such as fisheries and agriculture, infrastructure construction, tourism, etc.
More importantly, Vietnam as a key member of the Association of South-East Asian Nations, can serve as a gateway for African countries to establish and develop economic and political ties in vibrant south-east Asia.
Although Vietnam and African countries have much in common, due to the distance and language barriers economic ties remain at low level. Both should do more to enhance understanding and confidence in each other to strengthen these ties.
This year’s Apec will be a special occasion for African friends and partners to come to Vietnam and survey the potential of co-operation and also enjoy the breathtaking landscape and its hospitality. – Vietnam News Agency