Addressing the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit (ASEAN BIS) 2020 held online on November 13, PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc emphasised that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented challenge for people and economies worldwide.

It has already triggered an economic downturn, impeding global trade, collapsing supply chains, hindering the travel of people, and forcing a huge number of businesses to shut down, he said.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc speaks at the ASEAN Business and Investment Summit 2020 (ASEAN BIS 2020) (Photo: VNA)

In its five decades, ASEAN has become a dynamic and innovative economic community with a population of more than 630 million people and total GDP of over 3.1 trillion USD, becoming the 5th largest economy in the world, he said.

The PM attributed the achievements to the contributions of business communities in the region, from large enterprises to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, young enterprises, start-ups, and women-owned enterprises.

Along with effective regional cooperation mechanisms such as the ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN BAC) and the East Asia Business Council (EABC), businesses in the region have cooperated closely to make important and practical recommendations with innovative ideas to leaders of ASEAN and ASEAN 3.

As Chair of ASEAN in 2020, Vietnam has introduced many initiatives and worked closely with other members and partners to control COVID-19 and implement a master recovery plan that focuses on facilitating the movement of experts, managers, and investors, ensuring the operations of supply and distribution chains, promoting production recovery, creating jobs, and removing any difficulties facing businesses, the PM stressed.

According to an International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecast released in October, Vietnam is in fair shape and likely to post growth of 2-3 percent for the year as a whole, he said, noting that the country is also working towards attracting more regional and global investors.

It commits to cooperating with other ASEAN member countries and the bloc’s partners to continue offering support programmes to businesses in the region, especially in the fields of digital transformation and the environment, society and corporate governance (ESG), and fully tap into new opportunities from the relocation of supply chains and global investment flows towards ASEAN, he affirmed.

Addressing the summit, Chairman of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) Vu Tien Loc suggested governments focus on measures to support micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises as well as young entrepreneurs, women-owned firms, and start-ups, which have been generating livelihoods for hundreds of millions of people in the region while being most-affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Urgent attention should be paid to supporting fields with great development potential but experiencing temporary difficulties, such as aviation, tourism, hotels, and restaurants, which could see strong development post-pandemic, Loc said.

He expressed the wish of the business community that the entire ASEAN region work together to promote integration, strengthen ASEAN connectivity, and promote development dialogue, even in the context of a pandemic, so that the bloc can be at the heart of the regional economy.

VCCI and ASEAN BAC recently introduced an initiative to set up the ASEAN Entrepreneurship Network, to promote links in start-up communities in the region, Loc said, while expressing his hope that ASEAN leaders, business communities, and dialogue partners of the bloc will support and promote the move.

Kanni Widnaraja, Assistant Secretary-General of the UN and Director of the Regional Bureau for Asia and Pacific, spoke highly of Vietnam’s role as ASEAN Chair, adding that ASEAN BIS needs to introduce investment policies that allow each country to overcome the consequences of the pandemic and recover in its own way./.

CPV (Source: VNA)