SEOUL — Việt Nam, together with Australia, officially took the charge as the co-chair of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)-run Southeast Asia Regional Programme (SEARP) for 2022-2025 during the second Ministerial Conference of the SEARP in Seoul on Wednesday.
Việt Nam and Australia succeeded Thailand and the Republic of Korea (RoK) for the position.
Addressing the conference, which gathered ministers and heads of delegations from 38 OECD member economies and ASEAN member countries, as well as the OECD Secretary General, the ASEAN Secretary General and leaders of many international organisations, RoK Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong stressed that ASEAN is one of the focuses of his country’s New Southern Policy.
The RoK will continue to strengthen cooperation with the bloc to make more contributions to the building of a greener, smarter and more inclusive ASEAN, he stated.
OECD Secretary General Mathias Cormann affirmed that ASEAN is a strategic priority area, underlining that the organisation hopes to promote cooperation with and support for ASEAN member countries in economic reform and getting closer to OECD standards.
As part of the conference, the leaders of ASEAN and OECD signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation across 31 areas. The deal creates an important framework for elevating the partnership between the two organisations.
During the conference, participants discussed the building of a greener, smarter ASEAN for an inclusive future, and the ensuring of green recovery towards a more self-resilient ASEAN.
Addressing the event, Vietnamese Foreign Minister Bùi Thanh Sơn proposed three cooperation areas to further strengthen the OECD-ASEAN partnership.
He suggested that the OECD continue to support and give policy consultations to ASEAN and regional countries in digital transformation. He said that the OECD and its members should increase assistance to ASEAN in implementing the ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework, the ASEAN Industry 4.0 Strategy, and the ASEAN Digital Masterplan 2025 and other action programmes related to digital transformation.
Sơn underlined the need to ensure all people benefit from digitalisation, are trained and gain access to digital technologies. He also expressed a hope that the OECD will assist ASEAN in developing a low-carbon economy and implementing commitments made at the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), heading to a greener and more sustainable future.
The Vietnamese diplomat also proposed that the OECD and its members help Việt Nam in developing digital economy and realising the National Programme on Digital Transformation to 2030 and reaching the target of digital economy contributing 20 per cent of GDP in 2025 and 30 per cent in 2030.
Việt Nam also hopes to receive support in transforming the growth model and investing more in renewable energy, high technology and high-quality human resources training.
The ministers adopted a joint statement on the people-oriented future – partnership for a smarter, greener and more inclusive ASEAN.
Speaking after the ceremony to take over the position of the SEARP co-chair, Sơn pledged that Việt Nam will work closely with Australia, the OECD and other members to continue promoting SEARP operations to make more contributions to regional economic recovery and development with a consistent policy of placing the people at the centre of the process.
On the sidelines of the conference, Sơn had meetings with OECD Secretary General Mathias Cormann and State Secretary and Acting Minister for Development Cooperation of Slovenia Stanislav Rascan.
Cormann congratulated Việt Nam on the country’s socio-economic achievements. He expressed his belief that with its role and position in the region, Việt Nam, together with Australia, will make contributions to the promotion of SEARP operations. He vowed that the OECD and its members will accompany Việt Nam in efforts to recover the economy, transform the growth model and speed up digital transformation, reaching the goal of fast and sustainable development.
Meanwhile, at their meeting, Sơn and Rascan pledged to promote the practical and all-round partnership between Việt Nam and Slovenia, especially in trade and investment, while strengthening coordination and mutual support at multilateral forums and mechanisms. — VNS