Thanh Nien Daily News, Vietnam
Consider everyone’s interest in FTA, says Vietnam
21 August 2006
Vietnam wants ASEAN to weigh the interest of all its members before deciding on the Asean Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with its six East Asia partners, an official said Sunday.
"We have to take into account everyone’s interest and not individually," Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Ngoc Phuc said when asked whether Vietnam is supportive of the proposal made by Japan.
Met at the airport on arrival in Malaysia for the 38th Asean Economic Ministers (AEM) meeting, Ngoc Phuc told Bernama news agency that Hanoi will consult other ASEAN members on the proposed FTA.
Japan is busy promoting the 16-nation FTA to regional leaders to integrate the region economically and create a level playing field.
It has offered a fund of up to US$100 million, under the Nikai Initiative, to start the ball rolling.
Laos, another of the lesser developed member like Vietnam, had earlier suggested that the grouping should first focus on the areas of economic cooperation with its six East Asia partners before embarking on the proposed FTA.
The Association of Southeast Asian nations (ASEAN) groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and Singapore.
Its six partners in the East Asia group are China, Japan and South Korea, plus India, Australia and New Zealand.