Photo: AKP-TVK-Khuon Sam OunThe 17th ASEAN Summit, the last one hosted by Viet Nam, opened today to the harmony of the ASEAN Anthem soaring in the National Convention Center in Hanoi.
In his opening statement, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung reminded ASEAN "to further bring into full play its unique role as an important factor to link and harmonise various interest groups in the region". He also highlighted the region's position as a hub that connects existing cooperation arrangements and frameworks.
Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung also evaluated ASEAN's recent steps forward, particularly those taken during Viet Nam's Chairmanship of ASEAN in 2010, which will be handed over to Indonesia during Saturday's closing ceremony.
With the smooth operationalisation of the new ASEAN organs and finalisation of related legal documents, "the ASEAN Charter has been brought to life," the Prime Minister concluded.
At the 17th ASEAN Summit's Leaders Retreat which followed, the Leaders of ASEAN took stock of the implementation of ASEAN agreements. They also adopted the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity, which will better connect the region in the dimensions of physical, institutional and people-to-people.
At the Related Summits, the Leaders will meet their counterparts from the Dialogue Partners to review and set out future directions for enhanced cooperation. The Member States will further reaffirm ASEAN's centrality in the evolving regional architecture during the East Asia Summit tomorrow. The ASEAN Leaders are also expected to formalise the participation of Russia and the United States in the ASEAN-initiated mechanism.
Earlier, at a signing ceremony this morning, the ASEAN Economic Ministers agreed to amend two previously-signed protocols.
The Eighth Package of Commitments under the ASEAN Framework Agreement on Services (AFAS 8) seals the Member States' commitment to liberalise an additional 15 services subsectors and increase the foreign investors' equity in the prescribed 80 subsectors.
In addition, in line with ATIGA's replacing of the Common Effective Preferential Tariff (CEPT) on 17 May this year, the Ministers also agreed to amend the "Protocol to Provide Special Consideration for Rice and Sugar" to extend the waiver for Member States to implement their original commitments for rice and sugar by another year.
Prior to the signing ceremony, a meeting was convened for the ASEAN Economic Community Council Ministers. The Council coordinates the work of the sectors under its purview. The meeting was chaired by the Minister of Trade and Industry of Viet Nam, Vu Huy Hoang.