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ASEAN Future Forum 2024: Promoting regional centrality
Linh Pham 13:06, 2024/04/23
The ASEAN Future Forum, chaired by Vietnam’s Prime Minister, is anticipated to formulate regional visions relevant to the global landscape.

The “ASEAN Future Forum 2024” (AFF 2024) – attended by more than 400 delegates, including prime ministers, foreign ministers, high-ranking officials, and senior experts – is dedicated to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) alone, for ASEAN, and for the people of ASEAN.

 ASEAN Future Forum 2024 takes place in Hanoi on April 23. Photo: MOFA

Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Do Hung Viet explained the purpose and significance of the “ASEAN Future Forum 2024” – an initiative proposed by Vietnam’s Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh – which takes place today [April 23] in Hanoi.

“The future of the ASEAN is crucial not only for its ten members, but also for the rest of the world and all of us,” Viet said.

The forum, unlike many others, is in line with the bloc’s strategy of promoting ASEAN Centrality, the diplomat told the media ahead of the forum.

Gathering of leaders and experts

He said the event, with the participation of governments, academics, and businesses, would be an open and inclusive platform for all stakeholders to share their new and innovative ideas, and provide an important source of information for leaders of ASEAN member states in policy-making, for a better vision of the bloc, and for substantial benefits to the regional people.

Among those attending are Vietnam’s Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh, ASEAN’s Secretary-General Kao Kim Hourn, Laos Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone, Indonesia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi, and Brunei’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Erywan Yusof. Congratulatory messages will also be delivered by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. of the Philippines and and Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin of Thailand. Meanwhile, the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Malaysia’s Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, and Timor-Leste’s Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão will send video messages to the event.

Dozens of veteran diplomats and experts from ASEAN and its partners will take part, including former Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, former Singaporean Foreign Minister George Yeo, former British PM Tony Blair, among others. 

 Leaders of ASEAN member states gather at the 43rd ASEAN Summit in Indonesia in September 2023. Photo: VGP 

Helpful platform

The organizer – Vietnam, expects to get helpful commitments from different stakeholders at the forum. Do Hung Viet says that the organizer would sum up all speeches, ideas, and recommendations to be submitted to the official information channels of ASEAN.

In particular, he hoped that there would be an ASEAN bulletin sent to the United Nations Summit of the Future in September, showing the region’s contributions to global issues. The Forum also has “ASEAN People’s Voices”, in which local people raise their voices to help create a more people-centered ASEAN community that empowers and uplifts all. It is believed that these voices will play an influential role in shaping the future of ASEAN.     

Viet emphasized that sustainable development and people-centered approaches become essential for all ASEAN member states amid non-traditional security challenges and economic slowdown. In this regard, the main discussion topics at this forum will be how to reconcile development and environmental protection, adapt to climate change, maintain social security, and always put people's needs at the heart of all national and regional development decisions.  

This could be the largest multilateral event to be held in 2024 in Vietnam, showing the country’s proactive approaches and aspirations to further contribute to the region and promote its leading role in regional cooperation and around the globe.

Chance for regional businesses

Under the theme “ASEAN’s Rapid Development for a Sustainable Future”, the Forum will bring together leading Vietnamese and regional businesses to strengthen ties and share ideas at a business luncheon entitled “Towards a Cohesive, Resilient and Sustainable ASEAN Business Community: Seizing Opportunities in the Digital Age” with the presence of Vietnam’s PM Pham Minh Chinh and Laos PM Sonexay Siphandone.

Viet said the session for businesses will be a good chance for them to exchange information, share difficulties and advantages in the digital age, and build up new networks for their companies. 

 Vietnam took the ASEAN presidency in 2020, making a great contribution to the development of ASEAN. Photo: MOFA 

Toward a strong and united ASEAN community

On April 22, the ASEAN Square was inaugurated at the main campus of the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam (DAV) in Hanoi in the presence of ASEAN Secretary-General Kao Kim Hourn and Vietnam’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Bui Thanh Son.

The square will serve as a teaching tool for DAV students, highlighting Vietnam’s commitment to ASEAN cooperation and the significance of ASEAN, as well as the spirit of proactive, positive, and responsible international integration.

Commenting on ASEAN Centrality, Indonesia’s Ambassador to Vietnam, Denny Abdi, believed that all ASEAN members likely hope that the organization will always be relevant to its region, remain united and play a crucial role in the ever-changing global landscape both now and in the future, on a regional and worldwide scale. ASEAN Centrality is one of the factors contributing to peace, stability, and prosperous development in the region.

Tiffany McDonald, Australian Ambassador to ASEAN, shared the same view on ASEAN Centrality, saying that it plays a pivotal role in shaping a region of peace, stability, and prosperity. She said ASEAN is the primary norm-setter in the region, with the ability to bring together all key players in the Indo-Pacific through its mechanisms, including the ASEAN Summit, the East Asia Summit (EAS), the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), and the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting Plus (ADMM+).

Kavi Chongkittavorn, a veteran journalist on regional affairs, highlighted the role of Vietnam in ASEAN, saying that Vietnam has undoubtedly proved that its membership in ASEAN has given it and the organization new impetus. With nearly 30 years of being an ASEAN member, Vietnam looks forward to a united ASEAN that can actively respond to regional and global challenges.

Meanwhile, Damian Hickey, Regional Director for Southeast Asia, Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, highly appreciated Vietnam’s initiatives for the development of ASEAN. He said Vietnam, as an important member of ASEAN and the international community, has the potential to be a center of sustainable development and innovation with significant contributions to global issues. Therefore, the AFF 2024 will be an ideal chance to formulate the visions.

TAG: ASEAN Future Forum 2024: Promoting regional centrality
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