Vietnam Business Forum magazine held an interview with Tran Duc Minh, Deputy Trade Minister, about Vietnam’s preparations for the ninth Asia-Europe Business Forum (AEBF IX)
The ninth Asia-Europe Business Forum (AEBF IX) is hosted by Vietnam on the threshold of the fifth Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM 5). Can you tell me briefly about AEBF IX?
The Asia-Europe Business Forum was organised under the initiative of the State heads of ASEM member countries and was first organised in France in 1996. The forum is held annually. Attending the forum are senior officials, chambers of commerce and industry, economic organisations, multi-national corporations, leading enterprises, and small and medium-sized enterprises. AEBF is considered as an economic cooperation activity of ASEM with the task of collecting proposals and major policies of the Asia-Europe business community to submit to ASEM leaders to create a more favourable environment for trade and investment exchange between the two regions. Therefore, AEBF IX held in Vietnam has become more important on the threshold of ASEM 5, which is also due to be held in Vietnam.
AEBF IX will be held on October 7 and 8 at the Sheraton Hanoi Hotel. The forum’s theme is “Towards a Closer and More Dynamic Asia-Europe Business Partnership”. The organisers have estimated that about 200 representatives from leading enterprises from 26 countries in two continents will attend the event. Under the initiative of Prime Minister Phan Van Khai, ASEM leaders will attend the opening ceremony and deliver greeting speeches. AEBF IX will contain seven working groups, including trade, investment and infrastructure, financial services, information and communication technologies, food, SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) and tourism. The AEBF IX chairman will submit proposals to leaders who attend ASEM 5 on October 9 and 10, 2004.
What will AEBF IX do to promote economic cooperation in ASEM and the two continents?
AEBF aims at promoting cooperation among enterprises and governments in the two continents via dialogue and exchanges on building economic cooperation policies. AEBF IX will discuss interests and comments of the Asia-Europe business community, making concrete proposals on policies to submit to the governments of ASEM countries. The forum will also review economic programmes of trade and investment cooperation and develop new orientations for economic, cultural and social cooperation programmes. It will support the development of cooperation among enterprises in the two continents with a focus on small and medium-sized enterprises by creating business and investment opportunities and implementing projects benefiting the host nation and the others.
How has Vietnam prepared for the event and what proposals will Vietnamese enterprises make at AEBF IX?
To prepare for AEBF IX, Vietnam has set up a steering board chaired by the Ministry of Trade in cooperation with the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI). The first meeting of the international steering board of AEBF IX was held in late April, 2004, with the participation of representatives from 14 countries. They heard reports about the results of AEBF VIII held in the Republic of Korea and discussed relevant issues. We have received the registration forms of many delegations, such as China with 29 delegates. Even in Vietnam, 46 foreign-invested enterprises have registered to join the event. Attending AEBF IX will be leading enterprises in Vietnam. Apart from direct meetings and exchanges to seek business opportunities, Vietnamese enterprises will have an opportunity to make proposals on trade barriers which have created obstacles to their fair competition, such as the application of regulations for Vietnamese small and medium-sized enterprises (ie dumping court cases against Vietnam in the EU) and constraints to textile and garment export quotas to the EU