DPM, FM Minh's remarks at 13th Mekong-Japan Foreign Ministers' Meeting
22:41 | 09/07/2020
VGP - The following are full remarks by H.E. Pham Binh Minh, Deputy Prime Minister, Foreign Minister at 13th Mekong-Japan Foreign Ministers' Meeting, held online on July 9, 2020.

-        Your Excellency Co-chair,

-        Colleagues,

As the world is facing an unprecedented dual crisis of global epidemic and the most severe recession in nearly a century, it is essential for us to have a comprehensive approach, addressing both aspects of the crisis in tandem. We need to strengthen healthcare system and at the same time revive economic growth.

Since the pandemic situation around the world remains complex and extremely uncertain, in Viet Nam, were are continuing necessary measures to control and prevent the disease, on the other hand, we reopen the economy. Special attention has been given to enhancing localities’ healthcare capacity. The Government has launched a number of relief packages to support both enterprises and people. We are also boosting public investment, maintaining macroeconomic stability, restructuring economic sectors and developing digital economy. These measures have proven to be effective and there are signs of economic recovery.

Yet, the profound impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy and society has made it impossible for any country to overcome challenges alone. Therefore, enhancing regional and international cooperation is indispensable for countries to navigate through the crisis and address post-pandemic economic issues.

Dear colleagues,

As our countries are moving into the next phase of reopening the economy, Mekong-Japan cooperation can support this process by focusing on these areas that help restore supply chain operations, stimulate demand and strengthen healthcare systems.

I would like to share with you some ideas on the way forward.

First, it is in our interest to further promote economic relations between Japan and Mekong countries, leveraging the strength of and complementarities between our economies. Priority should be given to:

(i)               Facilitating private investment into infrastructure projects, including construction of transport routes, logistics facilities, and ports along the East-West and Southern economic corridors;

(ii)              Promoting investment of Japanese enterprises into manufacturing and processing industry to support the industrialization process in Mekong region and develop new regional supply chains;

(iii)            Helping Mekong and Japanese businesses take advantage of the opportunities offered by free trade agreements that our countries are parties to.

(iv)            Promoting trade facilitation measures, data and information exchange, market research, SMEs capacity building and trade-promotion events to allow more products from the Mekong countries to access Japanese market; and

(v)              Improving cross-border freight transport and logistics services.

On the topics of trade and investment facilitation, I also suggest that we ask our experts to start the discussion on resuming commercial flights among our countries while taking precautionary measures.

I welcome Japan’s announcement of establishing COVID-19 crisis response emergency support loan and hope that the loan will provide capital required for economic recovery measures taken by Mekong countries.

Second, spurring economic growth must go hand-in-hand with safeguarding public health. Therefore, it is important that we step up our cooperation in strengthening healthcare systems. We should continue our work on:

(i)               Improving human resources and facilities of hospitals and medical institutions; and

(ii)              Enhancing surveillance, laboratory and vaccine manufacturing capacities of the Mekong countries.

We also look forward to collaborating with Japan on the implementation of the resolution on universal health coverage adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in October 2019.

Third, although the world is preoccupied with COVID-19, we should not let the pandemic derail our cooperation on sustainable development. Key task ahead is to implement “The Mekong-Japan Initiative for SDGs toward 2030” endorsed by our Leaders last year. This task is becoming even more urgent given challenges facing the Mekong region.

As we are all aware, the Mekong river basin has witnessed increasing occurrence of extreme whether events. Between late 2019 and early 2020, the region suffered from a major drought and salination, which left millions of people without access to safe water and lost livelihood. The drought has also undermined farm yields and harvest, thus seriously affecting food security of the region.

To ensure the success of the above-mentioned Initiative, I propose that we task Senior Officials to develop a work plan with specific actions and clear timeline.

Also on this note, I very much welcome the New KUSANONE Mekong SDGs initiative just announced by H.E. Motegi. I strongly believe that this Initiative will support Mekong countries in realizing key aspects of SDGs.

Last but not least, closer linkages between Mekong-Japan cooperation and ASEAN Community building process will help enhance the synergy of our efforts, bringing greater benefits to both businesses and people. Therefore, we should enhance the coordination between Mekong-Japan cooperation and relevant ASEAN fora, exploring the possibility of joint projects and activities.

I also look forward to your support for Viet Nam’s initiative to strengthen ASEAN’s role in Mekong development, including the ASEAN Dialogue on sub-regional development.

Thank you./.

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