ASEAN has made great strides in consolidating solidarity, increasing intra-bloc cooperation, deepening relations with its partners, and raising its voice in addressing regional issues.
However, the grouping is facing a number of challenges, especially in completing the building of the ASEAN Community in 2015 as scheduled, and working out an ASEAN Vision beyond 2015.
In its ASEAN Vision beyond 2015, it aims to consolidate community building and integration; invest more in its people; actively promote regional peace, security, and prosperity, and settle global issues of mutual concern; and expand relations with other non-ASEAN partners.
As the ASEAN Community building deadline (December 31, 2015) is drawing near, the grouping is exerting a greater effort and mobilising all resources to realise its set programmes and action plans based on three key pillars: politics-security, economics, and socio-culture.
It is working on an ASEAN development roadmap beyond 2015 and undertaking initiatives to improve the role and operational efficiency of ASEAN and its committees.
The grouping has made progress in implementing a blueprint on the ASEAN political-security community (APSC), especially 14 prioritised areas. It also strengthened political-security cooperation with its partners, and progressed in negotiations with five nuclear weapons possessors.
It released the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration (AHRD), established the ASEAN Institute for Peace and Reconciliation (AIPR), and held the Expanded ASEAN Maritime Forum (EAMF) for the first time in 2012.
To date ASEAN has completed 78% of its workload needed to establish the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) through economic cooperation agreements within the grouping and between it and partners.
ASEAN accelerated implementation of free trade agreements (FTAs) with its partners, completed negotiations of an investment and trade agreement within the ASEAN-India comprehensive economic cooperation agreement. It also agreed in principle the US-ASEAN expanded economic engagement initiative put forward by the US.
In May 2013, ASEAN and its six partners (India, the Republic of Korea, Japan, New Zealand, China, Australia) kick-started negotiations of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) to facilitate existing FTAs and boost economic connectivity in South Asia.
To build the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC), the grouping has prioritised areas such as youth, culture, education, sports, natural disaster management and climate change. Nearly 86% of the set targets have been completed.
ASEAN adopted the ASEAN Climate Change Initiative (ACCI), established the ASEAN working group on climate change, and an action plan on climate change till 2015.
As chairing the ASEAN Committee on Disaster Management (ACDM) in 2013, Vietnam successfully organised ACDM 22 and the second Conference of Parties (COP 2) to the ASEAN Agreement on Disaster Management and Emergency Response (AADMER). At the conference, the ministers proposed the leaders of ASEAN member countries adopt a statement on strengthening natural disaster prevention cooperation at the 23rd ASEAN Summit in Brunei.
Vietnam will host ACDM23, a conference between ACDM and partners, and the ASEAN Regional Disaster Emergency Response Exercise (ARDEX – 13) later this year.
ASEAN is making effort to implement a master plan on ASEAN Connectivity centering on infrastructure, institutional, and people-to-people linkages. It is working on the second phase of action plans of the Initiative for ASEAN Integration (IAI).
The grouping’s external relations have been strengthened through ASEAN + 1 (ASEAN and each of its dialogue partners), ASEAN + 3 (ASEAN with China, Japan and the Republic of Korea), the East Asia Summit (EAS), the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), and the ASEAN Defence Minister Meeting Plus (ADMM plus).
All the partners attach importance to relations with ASEAN, support its role in the evolving regional architecture, and assist with the grouping’s community building efforts.
In 2013 Vietnam participated in all ASEAN activities, especially in setting development orientations, making decisions, and drafting documents for ASEAN conferences and meetings.
In the face of regional complications, Vietnam has made a significant contribution to raising ASEAN’s central role in regional cooperation, promoting peace, security, stability and cooperation n the region. It has also made an important, practical and effective contribution to enhancing ASEAN’s external relations.
Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung will lead the Vietnamese delegation to attend the 23rd ASEAN Summit and related meetings from October 8-10.