HANOI, Dec. 8 (Xinhua) -- Countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) should consolidate to boost economic connectivity, transport infrastructure development and soft connectivity, said Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on Thursday.

Phuc made the remark at the 2016 Bloomberg ASEAN Business Summit which opened in Vietnam's capital Hanoi on Thursday.

According to Phuc, the world and the ASEAN region are facing enormous challenges in many areas such as security, economic, food, finance, climate change, returning protectionism, among others.

However, the fourth industrial revolution is bringing about many favorable challenges for development, the state-run news agency VNA quoted Phuc as saying.

Phuc thus urged regional countries to facilitate commercial flows, cross-border investment and services, and build a unified and efficient ASEAN market.

"Each ASEAN member cannot develop if it just relies on natural resource exploitation and simple labor, but need carry out innovative reform, increase competitiveness, deeper engage into global supply chain, and reach higher added values," said Phuc.

In its third year, the annual conference will convene ASEAN leaders across business, finance and government in Vietnam for the first time to discuss a number of topics including a review of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) and intra-regional policy to date, Vietnam and ASEAN's next stage of development, and cross-border investment and trade in the region.

Specific panel discussions will also take place to focus on growth sectors such as consumer goods, infrastructure, commodities and energy, banking and finance, and media and technology, said the summit on its website.