Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has said he is hopeful that major powers will play a crucial role in maintaining peace, stability and bolster prosperity in the world and the Southeast Asian region.
Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc speaks at a press conference on November 15, 2020. Photo: VGP
ASEAN in general and Vietnam in particular expect positive relations among the powers, healthy competition, effective and substantive contributions to the region and the world, and respect the ASEAN Centrality in the region, Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said when asked for comment at a press conference on November 15 after the closing ceremony of the 37th ASEAN Summit.
In response to a question on the possible implications of the recent US election on ASEAN- US relations, Mr. Phuc said Washington will remain a good friend of Vietnam and ASEAN on the basis of mutual understanding and respect, no matter who will be in charge of the White House.
At the conference, the Vietnamese PM said that economic and trade links are a major pillar of the ASEAN-US strategic partnership.
The US is currently ASEAN’s second largest trade partner while America is the biggest investor in ASEAN with more than US$330 billion as of 2019, Mr. Phuc said.
It can be said that the thriving of American trade and investment has tightened the economic relations between the US and Vietnam, and the US and ASEAN, the PM commented.
The US is also ASEAN’s important partner in improving human resources and narrowing the development gaps among the regional countries.
ASEAN member states highly appreciate the ASEAN-US strategic partnership on the basis of mutual respect and common stance on making the region peaceful, stable, and prosperous, Mr. Phuc said, noting that he believed the four-decade relationship will further thrive in the future.
ASEAN-US economic relations
ASEAN has become a focal point of the rapidly changing economic architecture of the Asia-Pacific region, growing as a driving force in regional cooperation and a much-courted economic partner.
The US has a stake in sustaining ASEAN’s development and in promoting efforts to deepen the ASEAN-US relationship, according to Peter A. Petri and Michael G. Plummer, authors of “ASEAN Centrality and the ASEAN-US Economic Relationship.”
According to the authors, conceptually, a policy that respects centrality and maximizes gains from ASEAN-US cooperation could maximize cooperation with ASEAN members having the capacity for deepening economic and investment relations with the US; support the ASEAN integration; and ensure, along with ASEAN partners, that new agreements involving in some ASEAN countries would benefit all ASEAN members.
Meanwhile, the Washington-based Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) said the US and Southeast Asian economies are highly complementary, creating significant and widespread benefits for both sides.
Collectively, Southeast Asia is expected to become the fourth largest economy in the world by 2050 and is already the second largest export market for the US, supporting hundreds of thousands of US jobs.
CSIS noted that the US-Southeast Asia trade relationship faces challenges from the absence of US participation in multilateral trade arrangements, the direct and indirect effects of US-China trade friction, and uncertainty created by the Trump administration’s abrupt break from longstanding US trade policy.