Strengthening Economic Partnership For Sustainable And Equitable Development In The Asia-Pacific
Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam, 23 May 2006
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my great pleasure, on behalf of National Committee for APEC 2006 and in my own capacity as APEC 2006 SOM Chair, to address this important Conference of the APEC Study Center Consortium (ASCC). I would like to warmly welcome all of you to Ho Chi Minh City, a dynamic metropolis of Vietnam, for this event, and also hope to receive you again during APEC Vietnam 2006.
This Conference is held at an important point of time, marked by serious challenges and noble tasks confronting APEC in the process of building a prosperous community in the Asia Pacific region. This Conference provides a wide and effective forum for frank discussion with a view to obtaining insights and inputs from scholars, business people and policy makers, on how to deal with the challenges facing APEC as a whole, as well as its member economies. This conference is also an opportunity to strengthen the links between academic, government and business sectors, regarding matters of importance to APEC. I highly commend the ASC Vietnam and the Institute for International Relations for their great efforts and fruitful cooperation in making this event possible.
Over the years, APEC economies have made tremendous efforts to pursue the Bogor goals, taking advantage of various channels, such as voluntary commitments and multilateral action through the WTO. APEC members have achieved a remarkable progress in trade liberalization and facilitation, moving closer to their goals of free trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region. Impressive improvements have been made in the areas of capacity building, transparency standards, and openness to foreign direct investment. APEC has also played a pivotal role in promoting the multilateral trading system, which is considered essential for the prosperity of regional economies. It has encouraged members to conclude comprehensive and WTO-consistent agreements through APEC's best practices for RTAs and FTAs. APEC is also an essential force in advancing the Doha Development Agenda.
However, significant challenges still lie ahead for the development of the whole APEC community and its member economies. Progress has been lagging in the liberalization of some key areas, such as, for example, to assure the achievement of the Bogor goals by 2010. The pursuit of ECOTECH objectives has also been delayed by the lack of interests and limited financial resources, which could negatively affect the enthusiasm of APEC developing economies. Moreover, the global trading system embodied in the WTO, which APEC always seeks to defend, is now challenged by the proliferation of preferential trading arrangements.
In order to overcome these challenges, we should hold on to the commitments pursued by APEC's previous host economies, specifically to the 3 major frames.
Firstly, we should continue to accelerate trade and investment liberalization and facilitation, as well as the ECOTECH.
Secondly, we should set up and secure a sustainable and safe business environment by promoting health protection, quick natural disaster response and prevention, energy sufficiency, as well as efforts to promote technology transfer and to combat corruption
Thirdly, we should continue to strive for the goal of one economic community in the Asia-Pacific region.
Thus, the 2006 APEC Summit in Vietnam has the theme "Towards a Dynamic Community for Sustainable Development and Prosperity".
The year 2006 is full of many significant events in Vietnam. It is the year of the 10th Party's Congress from which a 5-year development policy and orientation for many aspects of life in Vietnam will emerge. It is also the year of the final stage of negotiations for Vietnam to accede to the WTO. Hence, as the host of the 14th APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting this year, Vietnam wishes to play a more proactive role in accelerating the APEC process to achieve its long-term goals of trade liberalization.
Taking over the responsibility of the host economy of APEC, Vietnam is expanding its efforts to actively participate in, and contribute to, the implementation of the Bogor Goals, in order to narrow the economic gap among APEC members, and strive for collective prosperity in the region, while observing the APEC's principles of voluntarism, flexibility and consensus.
Fully supportive of the Summit, I am of the view that the practical problem-solving recommendations of the APEC Studies Centers on how to address the need of building on the Busan Roadmap, enhance trade and investment in the region, strengthen ECOTECH, provide a secure and favorable business environment and promote community linkages, will become the imperatives for the continued success of APEC.
This ASCC Conference is among a series of APEC meetings to be held in Vietnam in 2006. With the theme of "Strengthening Economic Partnership for Sustainable and Equitable Development in the Asia - Pacific ", I strongly believe that the participants of this Conference will discuss in depth and detail the current progress and future direction of APEC, and exchange ideas on how to increase the contribution of ASCC to the APEC process. I am confident that your two-day Conference will reach many fruitful conclusions which will serve as essential guideposts to APEC 2006. Your participation in and contribution to the Conference will be of great value not only to Vietnam, as the host economy, but also to all APEC members as the beneficiaries of APEC development and prosperity.
To conclude, I wish you success in achieving the goals set out for this event. I do hope that all of you will have a pleasant stay, and take back with you good memories of Ho Chi Minh City and Vietnam.
Thank you very much for your attention.