Speaking at the event, PM Phuc said throughout its 25 years of ASEAN membership, Vietnam has always made active and responsible contributions to ASEAN cooperation. In 2020, Vietnam assumes major responsibilities at the regional and international levels, notably the ASEAN Chairmanship. Such a responsibility gives Vietnam an opportunity to contribute more substantively to the building and growth of a harmonious, resilient, innovative, cohesive, responsible and adaptive ASEAN Community.
Previously a region of strife and differences, ASEAN has become a united group of independent countries enjoying great progress and growth, where 650 million people call home. The grouping is ranked as the third most dynamic economy in the world, boasting a total gross domestic product of US$2.95 trillion in 2018. ASEAN has signed six free trade agreements with seven top partners in the world, thus reinforcing its centrality in the regional architecture. These achievements have earned ASEAN the recognition of major powers and partners in the world.
As the ASEAN 2020 Chair, Vietnam will build on the achievements and the efforts of previous ASEAN Chairs and work with fellow members in identifying future directions for the ASEAN Community until 2025 and beyond, he said.
He added that peace, stability, solidarity, unity, prosperity and sustainability will remain the purpose, the identity and the overarching goal of the ASEAN Community. These values pave the way for ASEAN to forge for itself a new image, new standing and new role in the spirit of making active and responsible contributions to dialogue and cooperation at the global level.
Secondly, the ASEAN Community will foster seamless connectivity and deepen integration within and beyond the region, on the basis of innovation, stability and the growing influence of the Fourth Industrial Revolution upon the social and economic life of the entire community. The ASEAN Community will serve as a model of circular economy, endowed with new vigor.
Thirdly, the ASEAN Community will become more resilient through effective climate change adaptation and response, and better management of natural disasters, pollution and plastic waste. It will become a liveable place, with a burgeoning network of smart cities and strong social welfare. It will possess a high-quality workforce in the digital era through quality educational system and strategies for sustainable development and equal opportunity for all, so as to leave no one behind.
Fourthly, its fundamental documents enable the organs of ASEAN Community to maintain sensible, effective and vigorous operation and better serve the ASEAN Community and its people.
To realise these aspirations and foster the future together, he called on each member and every citizen to make every effort to contribute to the common works of ASEAN, from the smallest of acts.
“Let us think Community, act Community, and share the Community values. There are no ties more enduring than those connecting our hearts. Let our efforts take ASEAN far and wide, and at the same keep ASEAN close to our hearts,” he said.
According to him, the theme of ASEAN 2020 is “Cohesive and Responsive”, which is supported by the five priorities for 2020, identified with a view to meeting the long-term goals of ASEAN. They involve actively contributing to a regional environment of peace, security and stability; bringing prosperity through regional integration and connectivity, heightening ASEAN’s adaptability to the Fourth Industrial Revolution to grasp opportunities; raising the awareness of ASEAN Community and Identity; strengthening partnerships for peace and sustainable development, and promoting the role and contribution of ASEAN in the international community; and enhancing the capacity and operational efficiency of ASEAN.
Vietnam will make every effort to collaborate with fellow members to successfully accomplish the ASEAN 2020’s priorities, he said.
He wished that as befitting of an “ASEAN citizen”, each Vietnamese citizen, through actions, would spread the messages of a friendly, cordial, and hospitable Vietnam that welcomes all future partners with open arms.
At the ceremony, PM Phuc together with Deputy PM and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh and leaders of ministries and agencies pressed the button to launch the ASEAN 2020 website.
Minh also honoured special sponsors for Vietnam’s 2020 ASEAN Chairmanship.