Interview: Le Luong Minh
How can other ASEAN member states further collaborate with the Philippines?
LE LUONG MINH: ASEAN member states will offer full support to the Philippines in continuing with the implementation of the ASEAN community integration agenda and in commemorating the 50th anniversary of the organisation. For the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), the priority deliverables during the Philippines’ ASEAN chairmanship in 2017 will focus on inclusive and innovation-led growth. These are very much in line with the AEC Blueprint 2025’s focus on its second and fourth characteristics of “a competitive, innovative and dynamic ASEAN” and “a resilient, inclusive, people-oriented and people-centred ASEAN”. A number of the planned deliverables for the Philippines’ chairmanship year include providing an enabling environment for micro as well as small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) development, with greater participation in global value chains; advancing ASEAN’s participation in e-commerce and the digital economy; and promoting innovation.
These initiatives will also be supported by the ongoing implementation by ASEAN member states of concrete activities under the second year of the ASEAN Strategic Action Plan for SME Development 2016-25, as well as other sectoral plans to support the AEC Blueprint 2025.
Several initiatives have been discussed among different members of the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC) to support the Philippines, especially engaging different stakeholders, including government bodies, international NGOs and the private sector. The goal is to gain their support in developing and implementing the Philippines’ priorities in alignment with the ASCC’s goals, and contribute to the accomplishment of the ASEAN community vision: to forge a common identity and build a caring and sharing society that is inclusive, and where the well-being, livelihood and welfare of the people are enhanced.
In what ways can more cooperation among Europe and South-east Asian countries be fostered?
MINH: The adoption of the Nuremberg Declaration on an ASEAN-EU Enhanced Partnership in 2007 was an important milestone in the ASEAN-EU dialogue. This relationship has since grown and was further strengthened in 2012 with the adoption of the Bandar Seri Begawan Plan of Action to Strengthen the ASEAN-EU Enhanced Partnership 2013-17. Next year will be another milestone for the partnership, as ASEAN and the EU will celebrate the 40th anniversary of dialogue relations.
At the 21st ASEAN-EU ministerial meeting in Bangkok, Thailand in October 2016, the ministers from both sides highlighted five key areas. First, to accelerate efforts in working towards a strategic partnership between ASEAN and the EU by strengthening cooperation in traditional areas of dialogue and cooperation – such as trade, connectivity, development cooperation, energy and research – and on political as well as security issues.
Second, to enhance strategic connectivity between ASEAN and the EU through more effective land, sea and air links between the two regions, as well as between the peoples of the member states of ASEAN and the EU, which includes stronger cooperation through the conclusion of the ASEAN-EU comprehensive air transport agreement.
Third, to promote the economic partnership between ASEAN and the EU with the aim of increasing trade and investment between both regions, and reaffirming the commitment to intensify work towards the timely resumption of region-to-region ASEAN-EU free trade agreement negotiations.
Fourth, to strengthen people-to-people contacts and links; and lastly, to promote cooperation on education and encourage the international mobility of students and academic between higher education institutions in ASEAN member countries and the EU.
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