Closing remarks by Mr. Nicholas Rosellini, UNDP Deputy Assistant Administrator and Deputy Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific at the International Conference on Economic Reforms for Inclusive and Sustainable Growth

25 Mar 2014

Event: International Conference on Economic Reforms for Inclusive and Sustainable Growth: International Experience and Lessons for Viet Nam
Venue: Sheraton, Hanoi, Vietnam

Excellency, Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mme. Nguyen Phuong Nga
Professor Nguyen Quang Thuan, Vice-President of the Viet Nam Academy of Social Sciences
Distinguished participants, ladies and gentlemen:

On behalf of UNDP, it is an honour and a pleasure for me to deliver the closing remarks at this important international conference.

The region and Viet Nam have achieved unparalleled success in economic development that led to tangible improvements in people’s lives. Asia-Pacific is now a largely middle-income region. At the same time, the growing share of poor people and rising inequalities are causes for concern. Inequalities persist in education, health, nutrition, living conditions; and are compounded by disparities in voice and participation that are also gender and ethnicity-based.

Uneven development progress seen across and within countries has been related to differences in the quality of political, economic and environmental governance. Challenges remain across Asia-Pacific region for strengthening institutions, improving public administration and service delivery, and enhancing access to justice, transparency and accountability.
Mitigating and adapting to the impacts of climate change are key to sustained human development in the region. Beyond climate change, effective management of natural resources such as forests, water, fisheries and minerals, is of utmost importance given the over-exploitation of natural wealth and environmental degradation.

For Viet Nam, this discussion is very timely and pertinent. The Government is reviewing thirty years of Doi Moi, which has helped lift tens of millions people out of poverty. As the country moves further, it needs new policies and institutions which ensure that growth accelerates, but importantly is also inclusive and sustainable. As many contributors underlined, these features – inclusiveness and sustainability – also contribute to growth.
I would now like to pick up on some key themes discussed in the conference and attempt to synthesize the key messages emerging from the discussion.

We began with a keynote speech by the Deputy PM that set the scene and highlighted the main challenges to be addressed such as the role of state in the economy, agricultural sector modernization, opportunities and pitfalls of greater regional and global integration. He also touched on institutional and policy reforms necessary to facilitate continued growth.

The UNDP Administrator reminded us that these are the challenges faced by many countries and reinforced the global importance of sustainability and inclusiveness – and also of transparency and accountability – for continued progress in human development.

The first session highlighted the significance of tackling inequality as a win-win for accelerated growth. It outlined some policy and institutional reforms, ranging from macroeconomic instruments to structural interventions.

Yesterday afternoon we looked at financial and SOE sector reforms to improve economic efficiency, productivity and competitiveness. The Indonesian and Chinese examples clearly showed that regulatory mechanisms that combine good economic governance and market discipline are central to success of reform efforts.

This morning we examined the middle-income traps and factors contributing to growth deceleration globally and in the region. This is characterized by slow movement through the value chain, high levels of inequality and low level of productivity and innovation. New challenges require new policies and institutional capacities. This is particularly pertinent to agriculture and rural development, the sector in which a majority of the poor are engaged. At Viet Nam’s stage of development, modernizing agriculture remains vital – it is clearly still a sunrise, rather than a sunset sector.

The final session addressed the opportunities and challenges with regards to regional and global integration. Many speakers have highlighted that free trade agreements offer an anchor for institutional and policy reform. However, success is not guaranteed unless institutions are inclusive and Viet Nam’s economy becomes less divided between state and non-state, foreign and domestic, formal and informal, and rural and urban sectors.

These have been highly relevant discussions and lessons for Viet Nam as it examines its economic reform agenda in the context of the thirty-year review of Doi Moi.

UNDP has long been a partner of Viet Nam in renovating its development model. Moving ahead, UNDP stands ready to deepen and take forward the very useful discussions that have taken place in the past one and a half days through sharing innovative solutions and relevant experiences.

These issues will be at the heart of the next Viet Nam Human Development Report focusing on inclusive growth. Many of the policy ideas that were discussed in the conference will inform the continuing engagement with senior levels of the Government as part of the Viet Nam Executive Leadership Programme and other interventions supported by UNDP. Specifically, accelerating human development and livelihoods with a focus on ethnic minority communities and remote areas, as well as promoting public administration reform at local levels, are promising strategies that UNDP is taking forward with its partners.

This is our closing session but not the end of this important dialogue. Having served in Viet Nam in 1990s and seeing the progress made as well as encouraging discussions in this conference, I remain positive that Viet Nam will make the right policy choices to renovate its economic development model and secure a sustainable and prosperous future for all.

In conclusion, I would like to thank the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Viet Nam Academy of Social Sciences for co-organising this conference jointly with UNDP. Our special thanks go to all the international and Vietnamese resource persons and speakers for sharing their insights.