Theme: Sustainability and Inclusion
As delivered, San Francisco, 15 November 2023

Distinguished delegates,

Ladies and gentlemen,

I would like to thank the Organizing Committee of the APEC CEO Summit 2023 for offering me the opportunity to meet with you – representatives of the dynamic, passionate, and creative business community of the Asia-Pacific.

This is an important opportunity for us to lay out visions on and together seek optimal solutions to critical, urgent, and strategic issues that may affect the future of the region and the world. I am confident that this Summit will make substantive contributions to cooperation and development in the Asia-Pacific, and to the success of the region’s business community.

I would like to touch upon three points as follows. First, issues facing
the global economy and the need to adopt new mindsets and approaches. Second,
the potential contributions of APEC, including businesses in the region, to addressing challenges against the world economy at present. And third, Viet Nam’s position and orientations for development in an ever-changing world.

Distinguished delegates,

I. Regarding issues facing the global economy and the need to adopt new mindsets and approaches:

  1. The history of mankind’s development is one of constant exploration, innovation, and adaptation, and of the tireless pursuit of peace, progress, and prosperity. At every critical juncture, the world needs to make bold and decisive choices to overcome hardships and pave new ways forward. After nearly three decades of continuous growth, the global economy now has to face one crisis after another, and the risk of a “lost decade” as per the warning of the World Bank.

I believe that the global economy, at present, is facing a number of major contradictions. First, while there is an increase in economic growth rate and wealth, the gap between the rich and the poor continues to widen, and the destruction of the environment persists, with ever-greater severity.

Second, the world has reaped the benefits of globalization for over three decades and established a network of international economic linkages on the basis of intertwined interests and interdependence. However, we are witnessing the rise of protectionism and separation.

Third, while science and technology have recorded remarkable advancements with far-reaching impacts across the globe, relevant frameworks and institutions pertaining to science and technology have yet to go beyond national level. In addition, science and technology bring forth both opportunities for robust growth and unprecedented risks.

And fourth, while we are pursuing a growth model based on consumption, or even over-consumption, we have not been able to mobilize sufficient resources for the Sustainable Development Goals.

  1. Then what are the solutions to fundamentally address such contradictions?

Albert Einstein once said: “The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” To continue to pursue our noble goals, we would need a new mindset that is inclusive, harmonious, and humanistic.

First, it is necessary to maintain a balance between economic growth, social progress, and environmental protection. The criteria to gauge the success
of an economy should not be derived solely from its scale and GDP growth rate, but also from the welfare of its people and the short-term and long-term impacts it has on the environment. Economic growth driven by  consumption and exploitation of natural resources should be replaced by a more circular and sustainable model.

At a national level, economic development policies should not only aim to benefit the business and investment activities of companies, but also strive to improve the quality of jobs, increase the income of workers, and contribute to ecological preservation.

At a regional and global level, cooperation among countries should not only focus on curbing emissions and transitioning to clean energy sources, but also lay the foundation for developing countries to expand their economies and narrow the development gap.

And finally, for businesses, it is necessary to take on the new principle of aligning their benefits with the common interests of the entire society.

Second, it is necessary to maintain an open and connected global economy, while ensuring national economic security. The COVID-19 pandemic and recent instabilities have exposed the vulnerability of our economies and supply chains to shocks.

Ensuring economic stability and security is the legitimate concern of every country. However, increased protectionism and decoupling of markets will only weaken the global economy and undo the past achievements of international economic integration. It is thus necessary to maintain close coordination among countries to improve responsiveness to crises and establish a global economic management system that is transparent, fair, and capable of ensuring the balance of interests among countries, however large or small.

Third, global governance of technology (particularly AI and biotechnology) should strive to not only manage the development of technologies, but also address their economic, social, cultural, and political implications.

The formulation of rules, regulations, and common standards on the matter should take into account the development level of each country, so as to ensure that every country, however large or small, and its people can reap the benefits of scientific and technological advancements.

In addition, it is necessary to ensure a balance between creating an enabling environment for scientific and technological development and safeguarding national safety, security, and sovereignty.

Fourth, it is important that we allocate sufficient resources for the fulfillment of sustainable and inclusive development goals. The world has gone past the half-way point in the implementation roadmap of the 2030 SDGs, however, the gap between commitment and implementation remains much too large. With the current approach, the Asia-Pacific region can only attain these goals by 2065, a whole 35 years later than the intended plan.

Thus, it is an urgent demand for us to earmark more and make better use of resources from the public and private sectors, at home and abroad, and from organizations and individuals alike. Developed countries should also better fulfil their commitment of allocating 0.7% of their Gross National Income to support developing countries.

Distinguished delegates,

II. Regarding APEC’s contributions to addressing challenges facing the global economy:

  1. Three decades ago, on Blake Island, USA, high-level leaders met for the first time and identified the mission of APEC as the premier forum for promoting free trade and investment, thereby penning a new chapter in the history of cooperation and development in the Asia-Pacific. APEC has, ever since, become the “incubator” of ideas of economic connectivity, and laid the groundwork for global cooperation agreements.

APEC has also taken the lead in endorsing green growth, responding to disasters, strongly supporting gender equality, assisting SMEs, and improving the quality of healthcare and education.

And underlying such successes have always been the important contributions of the region’s business community.

  1. Today, when the global economy is facing a new wave of protectionism, and other challenges stemming from climate change, social inequality, and geopolitical tensions, APEC provides us with a platform to together seek and pilot new ideas and solutions.

I am confident that APEC will continue to play an important role in this new phase, particularly in terms of:

First, fostering recovery and reinforcing trust in free trade and investment. iInteIntInternational trade has faced its share of ups and downs. However, trade cooperation has always been integral in the development and prosperity of countries. And yet, since 2019, over 3,000 trade barriers have been erected, leading to an unstable global economy and the risk of declining global economic output.

More than ever before, APEC needs to reinforce its pledge to maintain open markets, enhance international economic linkages, and support an open, inclusive, and sustainable world economy. It is necessary to ensure that the benefits of trade cooperation will be distributed equally throughout the entire society. Free trade and investment will help economies in the Asia-Pacific improve their competitiveness and remain as top destinations for investors.

Second, bolstering international cooperation on economic security, particularly in terms of improving the resilience of member economies and businesses in the region against future crises.

APEC is a forum for economies to step up information exchange and policy coordination to timely address challenges and ensure seamless regional supply chains.

In addition, cooperation in food security, energy security, and trade connectivity to diversify supply chains will help strengthen economic security of member economies.

Third, supporting economies in better preparing for new development trends. This can be achieved through the use and management of disruptive technologies, especially AI, quantum computing, and biotechnology, and the establishment of principles and orientations for the management of technologies at a regional level.

In addition, this may also be built upon the research, piloting, and expansion of a green and circular economy and transition to clean energy, as well as capacity building in social policy planning. Such endeavors will ensure that all people, particularly women, the poor, the disadvantaged,  as well as small and medium-sized  enterprises (SMEs) can partake in and reap benefits from economic growth.

The business community has long been an important part of APEC, with numerous meaningful contributions to the development and implementation of policies and promotion of new ideas and ways of thinking. Amid critical challenges facing us all at present, I wish to call upon businesses to work with their States in fulfilling the commitment towards sustainable development and pursuit of long-term economic, environmental, and social goals. It is also necessary to make further investment in science, technology, human resources, and the building of inclusive and resilient communities. This is an opportunity for businesses to leave their imprints on society, build trust, and add greater values to their brand.

Distinguished delegates,

III. Regarding Viet Nam’s position and development policies:

  1. Maintaining sustainable economic growth in tandem with pursuing social progress and equality, protecting the environment and ecosystem, and ensuring that
    all citizens can harness their potential, partake in and enjoy the accomplishments
    of development have been consistent requirements in Viet Nam’s development pathway.

Promoting economic growth in conjunction with ensuring social equality and progress needs to be implemented in every phase, every policy, and the entire process of development. Viet Nam does not sacrifice social progress and equality and the environment for mere economic gains.

Bearing this in mind, Viet Nam is holistically implementing three key groups of solutions as follows:

First, Viet Nam is striving to establish an independent and self-reliant economy while pursuing active and extensive international integration, with domestic capacity serving as the fundamental, strategic, and decisive factor, while external resources play an important role in achieving breakthroughs.

Accordingly, Viet Nam’s focus is to expedite the restructuring of its economy in tandem with the transition to a green and clean growth model, so as to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. In addition, Viet Nam is accelerating the implementation of three strategic breakthroughs, including institutions, infrastructures, and human resources, and pursuing development on the basis of science, technology, innovation, culture, and the Vietnamese people.

Through such efforts, Viet Nam is considered one of the top 7 middle-income countries in terms of progress in innovation over the past decade, and one of the 3 countries with remarkable development achievements in 13 consecutive years.

In tandem with maintaining macroeconomic stability and the key balances of the economy, Viet Nam attaches great importance to bolstering international trade and investment cooperation. Viet Nam has signed over 90 trade agreements and 60 bilateral investment promotion and protection agreements. Viet Nam is also a party to 16 FTAs with around 60 economies. In addition, Viet Nam has consistently been among the top 30 countries and territories in terms of merchandise import and export value, and the top 10 destinations with regard to FDI attraction in recent years.

Second, Viet Nam is improving its management and effective use of natural resources, stepping up environmental protection and climate action, and expediting green transition, with a view to fulfilling global climate goals
and commitments.

In addition to improving relevant mechanisms, policies, and laws to promote the development of a green, low-emission, and circular economy, the State of Viet Nam is also looking into employing more tools to support businesses in digital transformation and green transition. Most notably, these include using new technologies, gaining access to green financing, and pursuing human resource development.

The establishment of the Just Energy Transition Partnership (JETP) between Viet Nam and the International Partners Group will also play an important role
in realizing Viet Nam’s commitments at COP-26, including the goal of achieving
net-zero emissions by 2050.  

Third, Viet Nam is striving to create an enabling environment for poor and disadvantaged people to seek a better life on their own, integrate with their communities, and eradicate discrimination in society.

The people constitute the goal and the actor in Viet Nam’s development, and every future-oriented policy and effort needs to revolve around the people’s happiness. Viet Nam is enacting three National Target Programs on sustainable poverty eradication, construction of new rural areas, and socio-economic development of ethnic minorities. In such efforts, the focus is on enhancing the quality of the workforce through the improvement of Viet Nam’s education, training, and vocational training systems in a fair, inclusive, and comprehensive manner. Viet Nam is also creating favorable conditions for young workforce to gain better access to science and technology.

Distinguished delegates,

To achieve these development goals, apart from Viet Nam’s own efforts, it is our hope that you will continue to stand by our side through consultation, policy proposals, new investment ideas, transfer of solutions, advanced technologies, and new economic models, and mobilization of investment and development finance.

With the guideline of focusing on quality, effectiveness, advanced technology, and environmental protection, Viet prioritizes drawing investment into projects in such areas as (i) science, technology, and innovation, (ii) green, digital, circular, and intellectual economy, (iii) electronic components and electric vehicles, (iv) production of semiconductor and new energy (such as hydrogen) and renewable energy, (v) development of green financial hubs, and (vi) biotechnology and healthcare, among others.

Viet Nam always pays due attention to and stands ready to accompany foreign and domestic businesses in their endeavors. Viet Nam respects and strives to safeguard the legitimate and lawful rights and interests of investors, and seeks to maintain harmonious interests among the State, investors, and workers. Viet Nam considers the success of businesses as our own, and the failures of businesses also the flaws of the State in our policy management.

Viet Nam welcomes and shall create every favorable condition for your investment activities in the aforementioned fields.

Distinguished delegates,

  1. APEC can only succeed in its work by building upon the friendship and trust among its members, and the cooperation of businesses and the people. I do hope that every APEC member economy will uphold the spirit of collaboration and a high sense of responsibility, underscore the importance of multilateralism, and set aside differences to together overcome all challenges, for peace, cooperation, and development in the region and the world.

Viet Nam stands ready to work with fellow APEC members and the business community in the Asia-Pacific to pave the way towards a brighter future for all. I am confident that given the joint efforts and strong resolve of us all, APEC will continue to record greater successes in this new phase of development.

Ina D. Coolbrith, the first poet laureate of the Californian literature, in the early 20th century, wrote these warm, colorful verses to depict the city of
San Francisco:

You, from your Gate of Gold,

Facing the orient sunburst,

Swathed in the sunset gleams,

Throned in an ultimate glory,

City of mists and of dreams!

And today, in San Francisco, let us all continue to light the path towards these dreams, the dreams of this city, the dreams of a robust, creative, and prosperous Asia-Pacific, and the dreams of a world of peace and cooperation.

I wish you the best of health and happiness!

May this Summit be a great success!

Thank you.