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The 18th East Asia Forum: Pooling Wisdom for Economic and Financial Cooperation

2020/12/10

On December 10, 2020, Vice Foreign Minister Luo Zhaohui and Vietnamese Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyen Quoc Dung co-chaired and addressed the 18th East Asia Forum via video link. ROK's Deputy Foreign Minister Kim Gunn attended the forum. Representatives from governments, businesses and academia of China, Japan, the ROK and ten ASEAN countries had in-depth discussions on "Strengthening ASEAN Plus Three Cooperation for Economic and Financial Resilience in the Face of Emerging Challenges".

Luo Zhaohui said in his remarks, the world today is experiencing unprecedented pandemic, grave economic recession and headwinds of unilateralism. However, there are opportunities in crisis, and solidarity, confidence and cooperation matter. The incoming vaccines for COVID-19 and the signing of Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) will revive the world economy and boost regional development. The ASEAN Plus Three (APT) countries shall leverage respective strengths, embrace challenges, improve economic and financial resilience, foster new growth areas, and enhance local competitiveness.

First, we should keep in mind what brought us together. Established for jointly addressing crisis, East Asia cooperation aims to deliver regional rejuvenation and common development. In face of new challenges, we should stay true to our original aspiration, and turn the pandemic into a new opportunity of promoting regional cooperation, and strengthen public health cooperation and non-traditional security cooperation. We should make dedicated efforts to prioritize development, follow established goals of regional economic integration and the ASEAN Vision blueprint, and minimize the impact of geopolitical factors. We should stay committed to ASEAN centrality, support ASEAN in playing an even bigger role in developing an open and inclusive regional architecture, consolidate different regional cooperation mechanisms with ASEAN at its core, and keep East Asia Cooperation in the right direction.

Second, we should cultivate new drivers for cooperation. Despite the complex factors such as the pandemic and anti-globalization, we should safeguard open, safe, stable and unimpeded industrial and supply chains, and leverage the regional industrial clusters to build a more competitive "world's factory" in East Asia. In addition, we should fully tap the consumption potential of emerging markets such as ASEAN and China, cultivate a more integrated "world's factory", and grow production capacity and consumption potential of the region while keeping connected with and integrated into global economy.

Third, we should create new highlights of cooperation. To complete the anti-pandemic task, we should strengthen vaccine cooperation, advance the building of the APT reserve of essential medical supplies, and align with the ASEAN Regional Reserve of Medical Supplies for Public Health Emergencies to ensure people's health and safety. We need to support the building of "ASEAN Travel Corridor", and discuss building a network to facilitate the movement of people within the region. We need to support the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework, synergize the Belt and Road Initiative with the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity, and promote the early implementation of the RCEP. We should strengthen financial policy coordination, make the Chiang Mai Initiative Multilateralisation more readily available, and explore new measures for building a regional financial safety net.

Fourth, we should tap potential for cooperation. With the unfolding of new-round technological and industrial revolutions and the accelerating of digital transformation, we should share new opportunities, leverage the scale advantage of regional markets, actively spread and apply technologies, and expand cooperation in e-commerce, 5G, and smart city to accelerate digital transformation and governance of digital economy in Asia. We should fully leverage respective strengths of China, Japan and the ROK, explore the "China-Japan-ROK plus X" cooperation model, and prioritize cooperation with ASEAN countries to narrow the digital divide.

Fifth, we should adhere to the principle of cooperation. As an export-oriented economy, the APT countries have a close tie with external partners. Thus, we should advocate openness and inclusiveness instead of close-door policy and exclusiveness in East Asia cooperation. We should continue to deeply integrate with the world economy, uphold free trade and multilateral trading system, create an open, fair and inter-connected economic and trade environment, and build a rule-based regional order. We should deepen East Asia cooperation, and build an Asia-Pacific community with a shared future with relevant partners.

Luo said, East Asia cooperation has made significant progress over the years. We have enhanced strategic communication and political mutual trust, properly handled disputes in a constructive manner, and maintained regional peace and stability; we have established institutional cooperation platform, and promoted cooperation in different fields; we have jointly built the regional network of industrial and supply chains, and facilitated regional economic development and integration. The ATP countries reached a total trade volume of 10 trillion yuan last year, making East Asia a major engine for global growth. Looking ahead, East Asia will lead the global recovery, and contribute more to building a community with a shared future for mankind.

Nguyen Quoc Dung expressed his appreciation to China for jointly hosting the forum, and to other countries for their strong support for Vietnam as the rotating chair of ASEAN. He said, despite the adverse impact of the epidemic, the cooperation in East Asia, including APT countries, has made great progress. These countries have showed an amazing performance in the fight against the pandemic and economic recovery, and signed the RCEP as scheduled. Vietnam will continue to work with other countries in the region to deepen practical cooperation, improve economic and financial resilience, and promote regional cooperation to a higher level.

East Asia Forum, established in 2003, is a track 1.5 dialogue and cooperation platform among governments, businesses and academia under the APT cooperation framework. It aims to promote East Asia cooperation.

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