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PM calls for closer cooperation among ASEAN countries
By Thuy Dung
Wednesday,  Sep 12, 2018,19:15 (GMT+7)

PM calls for closer cooperation among ASEAN countries

By Thuy Dung

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc speaks at the opening ceremony of WEF ASEAN 2018 - PHOTO: VGP

HANOI – Speaking at the opening ceremony of the 2018 World Economic Forum on ASEAN (WEF ASEAN 2018) in Hanoi today, September 12, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc called for stronger connectivity among ASEAN countries to strengthen the region’s competitive advantages amid the Fourth Industrial Revolution (IR4.0).

PM Phuc stressed that the region holds high potential for hi-tech and digital economy development, adding that the ASEAN’s digital economy will develop significantly to reach US$200 billion by 2025.

IR4.0 has presented ASEAN countries with numerous opportunities, especially in five sectors: electronics; chemicals, oil and gas; consumer goods; food; and pharmaceutical products. Besides this, small and medium enterprises (SMEs) have opportunities to grow, while artificial intelligence, robotics, automation and sensor equipment will be developed, contributing to improved productivity and effective use of resources.

However, the region is likely to face multiple challenges as well. For instance, 56% of workers in ASEAN countries are at high risk of losing their jobs to automation, according to a study by the International Labor Organization.

Therefore, the prime minister proposed key priorities to make use of the opportunities and cope with the challenges ushered in by the revolution.

According to him, regional countries should promote digital connectivity and information sharing. The ASEAN countries have approved a plan to strengthen regional connectivity in terms of infrastructure, regulations and human resources, and have focused on developing ecommerce, egovernance and online payments.

The regional business environment should be enhanced to support the operations of regional enterprises, with the ASEAN single-window being a typical example.

At WEF ASEAN this year, Vietnam will suggest launching a common mobile network, with the same service charge, across all ASEAN countries.

In addition, the regional countries need to build links among innovative incubators and create favorable conditions for talents to prove their abilities as the region is facing a severe shortage of skilled engineers, according to a report released by Google last year.

Meanwhile, the ASEAN education network should also be set up. With a combined population of more than 640 million and gross domestic product of US$2.76 trillion, the ASEAN now ranks third in Asia and fifth in the world in terms of economic development.

At the opening ceremony, Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of WEF, spoke highly of the forum in the context of a booming IR4.0, in which global competition is defined by the competitiveness of countries and not by the prices of products.

Countries that have been successful in availing of opportunities presented by IR4.0 have developed their own entrepreneurial ecosystems. Therefore, the governments of ASEAN countries should make conditions favorable for startups and SMEs.

ASEAN countries with strong visions, effective policies and trained manpower can take the initiative in the revolution, noted Schwab.

WEF ASEAN 2018, under the theme “ASEAN 4.0: Entrepreneurship and the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” has attracted more than 1,000 attendees representing international organizations, 80 leading startups in the ASEAN region and venture funds, as well as tech experts.

The forum, featuring nearly 60 rounds of discussions, is a great opportunity for regional policymakers and global entrepreneurs to share their ideas and solutions for startup development in the context of IR4.0.

Global corporations pledge to invest more in Vietnam

At a dialogue with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on September 12 in Hanoi, leaders of 20 multinational corporations committed to expanding their investment in Vietnam and accompanying the country in developing egovernance and a digital economy.

At the dialogue, which was held on the sidelines of WEF ASEAN 2018, PM Phuc wanted to know what investors expect from the Vietnamese Government, as well as their interests and the main challenges for doing business in the country, adding that the Vietnamese Government, the competent agencies and the localities are willing to support foreign investors.

Speaking at the dialogue, Judy Hsu, CEO of Singapore-based Standard Chartered in the ASEAN and South Asia, confirmed that the bank, which has been operating in Vietnam for the last 15 years, had pledged to promote cooperation in the country. The bank recently received the approval of State Bank of Vietnam to open its fourth branch in HCMC.

Simon Milner, vice president for public policy in Asia Pacific at Facebook, stated that his firm will do business in Vietnam over the long term, especially in terms of the digital citizenry, a digital economy, digital governance and digital connections.

To maintain the high growth in the coming period, Vietnam should focus on developing the infrastructure, digital economy and digital commerce, proposed Yasuo Tanabe, senior vice president of Japan-based Hitachi, which is involved in a metro line project in HCMC.

Meanwhile, a leader of Thai Beverage said the group had spent US$5 billion last year taking over Saigon Beer, Alcohol and Beverage Corporation (Sabeco) and planned to promote the Sabeco brand in other countries.

According to Alex Dimitrief, president cum CEO of GE Global Growth Organization, the firm has some 300,000 employees in total, including 2,000 in Vietnam.

GE has provided equipment to Vietnam to generate power and upgrade thousands of power transmission lines. More than half of the hospitals in Vietnam use at least one type of GE technology.

Moreover, Vietnam Airlines and Vietjet have already bought jet engines from the firm. GE has a world-class turbine factory in the northern city of Haiphong.

PM Phuc hailed GE’s long-term investment plans in Vietnam, adding that the country has ordered 200 airplanes from the United States, with engines produced by GE.

The prime minister stressed that the Vietnamese Government will ceaselessly improve the local business environment to support foreign firms’ operations and business expansion plans.


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