20 years of Vietnam – Saudi Arabia relations: Striving towards substantial development and deep ties

Update: 09:08 | 28/10/2019
TGVN. In an interview with The World and Vietnam Report on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Vietnam and Saudi Arabia (October 21, 1999 – October 21, 2019), Vietnamese Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Vu Viet Dung emphasized the encouraging steps in bilateral relations.
TIN LIÊN QUAN
20 years of vietnam saudi arabia relations striving towards substantial development and deep ties PM welcomes cooperation with Middle East-African countries
20 years of vietnam saudi arabia relations striving towards substantial development and deep ties

President hosts outgoing Saudi Arabian Ambassador

20 years of vietnam saudi arabia relations striving towards substantial development and deep ties PM welcomes cooperation with Middle East-African countries
20 years of vietnam saudi arabia relations striving towards substantial development and deep ties President hosts outgoing Saudi Arabian Ambassador
TIN LIÊN QUAN
20 years of vietnam saudi arabia relations striving towards substantial development and deep ties PM welcomes cooperation with Middle East-African countries
20 years of vietnam saudi arabia relations striving towards substantial development and deep ties President hosts outgoing Saudi Arabian Ambassador
TIN LIÊN QUAN
20 years of vietnam saudi arabia relations striving towards substantial development and deep ties President hosts outgoing Saudi Arabian Ambassador
TIN LIÊN QUAN

TIN LIÊN QUAN

20 years of vietnam saudi arabia relations striving towards substantial development and deep ties President hosts outgoing Saudi Arabian Ambassador
TIN LIÊN QUAN

Could you evaluate the most significant features of bilateral relations over the past 2 decades?

Vietnam and Saudi Arabia established diplomatic relations on October 21, 1999. Vietnam opened its embassy in Riyadh in April 2007 and in December 2008, Saudi Arabia opened its embassy in Ha Noi.

Over the past 20 years, bilateral relations between the two countries have achieved encouraging progress, making Vietnam and Saudi Arabia became important partners of each other in two regions.

Politically, the two sides continued to maintain mutual support at multilateral forums and international organizations. Recently, Saudi Arabia has supported Vietnam to stand for the non-permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council for the term 2020-2021.

Regarding trade, Saudi Arabia is one of Vietnam’s major trading partners in the region. Two-way trade turnover has remained stable at a high level, reaching 1.8 billion USD in 2018. A number of large Saudi corporations such as Kingdom Holdings, Zamil Steel… have had successful investment projects in Vietnam.

In term of development cooperation, the Saudi Arabia Fund for Development (SFD) continued to lend preferential loans to Vietnam to carry out construction projects, develop infrastructure in rural areas, with a frequency of about 2 projects/year.

Currently, there are about 10,000 Vietnamese people living and working in Saudi Arabia, mainly in the fields of construction, industry, services,… However, these are still manual workers with not really high income.

In the coming time, Vietnam wishes to send highly skilled workers in the fields of industry, energy, tourism,… to work in Saudi Arabia, in the context that Saudi Arabia wants to promote these sectors in order to diversify revenues, reduce the dependence on oil, which is also the goal of its Strategy “Vision 2030”.

20 years of vietnam saudi arabia relations striving towards substantial development and deep ties
Ambassador Vu Viet Dung signed the airlines cooperation between Vietnam and Saudi Arabia. (Photo: Vietnamese Embassy in Saudi Arabia)

What are the advantages as well as obstacles in the bilateral relations at present?

During the past time, the multi-faceted cooperation between Vietnam and Saudi Arabia has achieved remarkable progress, especially in the economic aspect. This result is achieved primarily due to the determination of the two sides’ leaders in promotion of substantial bilateral cooperation. Especially, the state visit of then President Nguyen Minh Triet to Saudi Arabia in 2010 was a milestone in the bilateral relationship.

During this visit, the two sides signed many important cooperation agreements, contributing to completing bilateral legal frameworks. In term of economic cooperation, there are some products that are strengths of Vietnam such as cellphone, electronic components, garment, sea food,… which are also highly valued by Saudi Arabian consumers. Meanwhile, Vietnam’s demand for petrochemical products, raw materials,… is increasing, contributing to maintaining a stable trade turnover between the two sides.

However, the Vietnam – Saudi Arabia relations encounters a number of difficulties, including the far geographical distance, the lack of opportunity for two countries’ business communities to approach, explore and seek investment opportunity in each other’s country. The temporary import ban on Vietnamese aquatic animals which was issued by Saudi Arabia since the beginning to 2018, also had a negative impact on the growth of bilateral trade.

20 years of vietnam saudi arabia relations striving towards substantial development and deep ties
Ambassador Vu Viet Dung and the Mayor of Riyadh, Sheik Faisal bin Bandar bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud celebrated the 20th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Vietnam - Saudi Arabia. (Photo: Vietnamese Embassy in Saudi Arabia)

What are the solutions to take advantage of opportunities and solve problems, Ambassador?

Vietnamese businesses should be aware of the compliance of Saudi Arabia’s strict regulations on food hygience and safety. Besides, the differences in culture, customs, climate,… can cause Vietnamese workers face certain difficulties in the process of getting acquainted and integrated into the local society. Despite their efforts, Vietnamese businesses have to prepare more carefully for workers before sending them to Saudi Arabia.

In my opinion, in order to maximize the potential of developing bilateral cooperation, in the coming time, the two sides need:

Firstly, strengthening exchange of delegations, especially high-level delegations and leaders of ministries/agencies in charge of trade, investment, agriculture, etc…

Secondly, strengthening the organization of trade promotion events, creating forums for businesses of the two countries to learn about each other’s market, business practices, law. In addition, the two countries’ businesses also need to increase their participation in exhibitions and fairs, thereby promoting product promotion.

In this November, the Saudi Foodex Fair which is a large-scale fair on food and beverage, will be held in city of Jeddah. This is a good opportunity for businesses to participate in and introduce products that Vietnam has strengths such as tropical fruits, coffee and tea.

Thirdly, the two sides need to promote tourism cooperation. This is a very potential field that was not paid attention by both sides in the past. Every year, nearly 10 million Saudis travel abroad, with favorite destinations in Southeast Asia such as the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia,… However, the number of Saudi Arabian tourists to Vietnam is very limited.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia is also having initial policies to attract tourists. Currently, the cost and procedures of visa application for foreign tourists have been significantly reduced. This will be an opportunity for Vietnamese people to visit and learn about this country.

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(TGVN)