Speech by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc at GMS Business Summit
08:51 | 31/03/2018

Your Excellency Samdech Techo Hun Sen, Prime Minister of Kingdom of Cambodia,

Your Excellency Thongloun Sisoulith, Prime Minister of Laos,

Your Excellency Prayut Chan-o-cha, Prime Minister of Thailand,

Your Excellency U Henry Van Thio, Vice President of Myanmar,

Your Excellency Wang Yi, State Councilor of People’s Republic of China,

Your Excellency Takehiko Nakao, President of ADB,

Your Excellency Lim Jock Hoi, Secretary- General of ASEAN,

Your Excellency Joaquim Levy, World Bank Managing Director and World Bank Group Chief Financial Officer,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

On behalf of the Government of Viet Nam, I would like to welcome all distinguished leaders, delegates and businesses to the GMS Business Summit.

For the first time ever, a large scale forum is organized on the occasion of GMS Summit and CLV Summit on Development Triangle Area. Together with all the leaders, I especially welcome the participation of nearly 2600 investors and entrepreneurs of the region and the world, for you are the major driver of GMS economic growth.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Greater Mekong Subregion is a vast area with a population of 340 million people, which is comprised of 5 countries, namely, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, Viet Nam and two provinces of China – Yunnan and Guangxi. With the region’s entire economic scale accounted for, GMS can be viewed as “one economy” with total GDP exceeding US$ 1300 billion. This shows that albeit their small size and limited resources, if countries and development partners connect and closely cooperate with each other within the common GMS framework, they can give rise to a shared economic region, a common market, together amplify their combined strengths and open up new opportunities for economic development.

Located at the center of a dynamically developing Asia, GMS has risen up with all of its determination, potential and strength, adding brighter strokes to Asia’s panorama of development, as it becomes an important global growth driver in the 21st century. Accordingly, a new vision for post-2022 GMS cooperation needs to be immediately developed to bring about an inter-connected, integrated, sustainable, prosperous and harmonious GMS.

To realise this vision and prevent GMS from becoming the mere sum of its member economies, we need to focus on legal institution reform, infrastructure and human resource development, domestic market improvement, and cross-border trade promotion. We also need to further promote participation in higher value-added activities within the regional and global value chain through participation in frameworks of economic cooperation and free trade.

In addition to governments and authorities at all levels playing an enabling role, and international institutions like ADB playing a catalyst and support role, the action takers is no other than the business community. Today’s forum is precisely the space for promoting initiatives and establishing connections not only between governments and authorities at all levels, but also between businesses. The key lies in upholding the role of networking and cooperation between businesses in order to create substantive connections and cooperation for prosperity in our GMS and CLV region.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In 2017, Viet Nam continued to maintain its high economic growth in the top of Asia, with inflation controlled at 3.5%. Our interest and exchange rate is stable, trade turnover reached a record level of US$ 425 billion, and foreign reserve has exceeded US$ 60 billion.

At present, there are about 25,000 FDI projects implemented in Viet Nam, with total registered investment capital exceeding US$ 320 billion. In 2017, VN Index has risen by 41%, ranking among the world’s top three. According to World Bank (WB), Viet Nam’s Ease of Doing Business Index (DB) last year jumped 14 places to 68th among 190 economies. World Economic Forum (WEF) placed Viet Nam’s Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) at 55th out of 137 countries, 5 places higher than last. World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) ranked Viet Nam’s Global Innovation Index (GII) at 47th out of 127 countries, 12 places higher than last. To a certain extent, these achievements have shown the trust and enthusiasm of investors and entrepreneurs toward our Government’s effort at reforms and innovation over the past years. They also motivate us to confidently proceed with further reforms, as follows.

Firstly, we are determined to build an enabling, action-oriented Government in the service of its people and businesses. The State does not take over the work of the market and businesses, and instead focus on creating a favorable environment for development, improving institutional and legal groundwork, enhancing management capacity in order to bring about equal opportunities for all economic sectors. The State pays attention to training and development of human resource, infrastructure development, and only considers investing into important areas which have proved difficult for private businesses to invest in.

Secondly, we will continue our effort to improve the business environment. We aim to create a facilitative and competitive business environment, join in the group of ASEAN’s leading countries, and meet the OECD Group’s high standards. We have worked to meet our commitments to protect intellectual property, innovative ideas and inventions of start-ups. We will continue to boost tax policy reforms and corporate tax rate will be decreased to 15 - 17%. Viet Nam also puts in place many preferential regulations for investment in advanced technology, supporting industries, and high-tech organic agriculture, and other areas that create a lot of employment opportunities.

Thirdly, we will further promote active international integration in GMS and CLV. From 2018 to 2019, we will focus on the signing and ratification of 2 new-generation free trade agreements, namely, CPTPP and EVFTA, and at the same time, the effective implementation of 10 FTAs currently in effect and accelerate negotiation of RCEP and other agreements. Just with CPTPP and EVFTA coming into effect, Viet Nam will have highly preferential, free trade relations with the markets of nearly 40 developed countries. These are considerations that international investors should not pass over.

Fourthly, as one of three pillars of GMS, the Government of Viet Nam currently prioritizes investing and attracting investment in the vital transport routes. In addition to already funded expressways such as Ho Chi Minh City – Can Tho – Ca Mau, Ha Noi – Hai Phong, Ha Noi – Lao Cai (connecting to Kunming, China), Ha Noi – Lang Son (connecting to Nanjing, China), we also work to connect the “two corridors, one economic belt” framework with the Belt and Road Initiative. Viet Nam is actively promoting investment in transport infrastructure on the East-West, North-South, and Southern economic corridors.

Furthermore, the Government of Viet Nam commits to implementing initiatives and is currently translating them into reality through prioritizing investment in connectivity infrastructure to support border trade, investment, tourism, agriculture and economics, as well as other forms of cross-border economic cooperation. We also emphasize investing in development of human resource of compatible skills and capacity. All are carried out with a view to achieve inclusive and sustainable development.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Amidst the profound transformations underway in the world economy and development environment, GMS needs to find more robust drivers for its development. We need to maintain our unique identity as an effective mechanism to amplify the combined determination and effort of all sides in order to generate new resources to settle differences, broaden and deepen the sphere for economic cooperation.

New resources for development come first from the effective use of internal resources. Each member economy needs to create a favorable business environment in order to harness all the potential and innovation of businesses and people. Perhaps this would be a new resource for development, as well as the foundation for successful international economic integration and connectivity, through attracting support from international development partners and outside resources for our GMS and CLV region.

Another important new resource comes from effectively harnessing the technological advancements and breakthroughs. More than anyone, all businesspeople here would understand how the Industrial Revolution 4.0 and its new technologies will carry the potential for connecting GMS and CLV economies in non-traditional methods, which will surpass the bounds of GMS founders’ imagination from 25 years ago. Presently, advanced technologies such as IoTs, biotechnology, artificial intelligence, robotics, and so on, become ever more prevalent in many of the region’s economic sectors.

These resources will result in new drivers for GMS development in the time to come. Nonetheless, in order to develop a prosperous, sustainable and integrated GMS, we need to ensure sustainable and harmonious development.

Rapid and sustainable development must remain the top priority, as it is the future generations’ expectation toward each of our decisions and actions. Rapid growth must go hand-in-hand with protection of the ecology and natural resources, especially the sustainable management and use of the Mekong River’s valuable resource. As “harmony” is a traditional Asian value, I believe that every national development plan, investment or business activity, or cooperation program between GMS countries needs to ensure the harmony and balance of interests among countries, among governments, businesses and people, between businesses and people.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Geographically connected by rivers and mountains, GMS and 3 CLV countries share the same aspirations for peace, development and prosperity. Together with other leaders, I hope to receive the support of the business community and development partners in realizing these aspirations.

Within the economic stream that connects the Mekong countries, we consider your success as our own success.

Thank you./.



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