Remarks by Deputy PM, FM Minh at 14th ASEM Foreign Ministers' Meeting

Update: 09:02 | 17/12/2019
The following are full remarks by Deputy Prime Minister, Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh at the first plenary session of the 14th ASEM Foreign Ministers' Meeting Madrid, Spain.
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“Revitalizing the multilateral system –

Advancing the ASEM partnership on global issues”

(Madrid, 16 December 2019)

Mr. Chair,

Distinguished Colleagues,

At the outset, I wish to sincerely thank the European Union and Mr. Josep Borrell, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice President of the European Commission personally, and our host Spain for the warm hospitality and excellent arrangements for this Meeting in the beautiful Madrid - a capital with rich history and vibrant energy.

I would like to take this opportunity to commend all the valuable contributions made by Spain as the host of the COP 25.


For the past 75 years, multilateralism, with the United Nations at its heart, has become indispensable. On the threshold of the third decade of the 21st century, we are now at a critical juncture of profound and irreversible transformation in the digital age.

There is great potential for sustainable peace and development, particularly economic empowerment and inclusion, deepening economic integration, more extensive connectivity, environmentally sustainable solutions, among many others, through digital and technological advancement. It is obvious the world has entered a new era of development.

At the same time, multilateralism is facing unprecedented challenges, notably fierce competition and confrontation, rising trade disputes, anti-globalization sentiment, and differences over the multilateral trading system. These are exacerbated by far-reaching impacts of technological disruption risks, climate change, increasing global inequalities, already slowing economic and trade growth, unsustainable environmental practices…

In such a fast-changing world, a key question is how ASEM can continue to be at the forefront in upholding multilateral cooperation and rules-based international order and strategically position ASEM for decades to come.

So, let me offer my perspectives on how best we can work together.

First, we must all reaffirm the fundamental importance of international law and the UN Charter for international relations and multilateral cooperation. International law is the foundation of equal relation among states.

Our actions must align with and be guided by the respect for international law for the benefits of world peace, sustainable development and prosperity of our peoples.

Second, recognizing times have changed, we need a revitalized and modern agenda and a hollistic approach for multilateral cooperation at all levels, regional, inter-regional and global. It must refocus and place people firmly at centre of our work. It must be focused on both traditional and non-traditional issues of peace and security in the digital age; on both digital economy, connectivity and inclusive and sustainable development and environmental sustainability; and on both trade and investment liberalization and next-generation trade issues.

It must be broad-based to engage all countries, particularly small and medium-sized, regional organizations and key stakeholders including the youth.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development, and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change should continue to be our priorities.

Third, as we are approaching the 75th anniversary of the UN and the 25th anniversary of the WTO, bolder actions are needed in order to reinforce the reform of multilateral institutions, especially the UN and the WTO, in order to keep up with the times and adequately address our people’s pressing concerns of today. All ASEM partners need to contribute actively to promote dialogue to shape new approaches, norms and frameworks that will govern effectively our global commons through multilateral process and engagement of all states as equals.


Multilateral cooperation holds a special place in Viet Nam’s foreign policy. We are strongly committed to the impelementation of the SDGs, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, including national target to end single-use plastics by 2025.

To further advance ASEM cooperation for gender equality, Viet Nam proposes to organize in 2020 an “ASEM High-level Dialogue on promoting women’s economic empowerment in the digital age”. The valuable co-sponsorship by Australia, China, Denmark, Finland, Indonesia, Italy, Japan and Norway shows how committed ASEM is to global efforts in this regard.

As a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council and ASEAN Chair next year, Viet Nam will continue working closely with all ASEM partners to revitalize the multilateral system and to advance the ASEM partnership on global issues for sustainable peace and development for our two regions and beyond.

I thank you all for your attention.

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