Fostering mutual understanding and trust

Update: 15:18 | 10/09/2019
On the occasion of the event "Meet Ambassadors from the Middle East and Africa 2019" hosted by the  Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Deputy Minister Nguyen Quoc Cuong had given The World & Vietnam Report an interview.
TIN LIÊN QUAN
fostering mutual understanding and trust Diplomats, firms discuss trade among Vietnam, Africa, Middle East
fostering mutual understanding and trust Foreign Ministry hosts meeting with ambassadors from Africa-Middle East
fostering mutual understanding and trust
Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyen Quoc Cuong delivered a speech at the meeting between ambassadors and diplomats from African and Middle Eastern countries on September 9. (Photo: Tuan Anh)

Mr. Deputy Minister, please provide us a brief overview of the relations between Vietnam and the countries in the Middle East and Africa in recent years?

The Middle East and Africa consists of 70 countries with total population of 1.6 billion and land area of more than 36 million square kilometers. This is a region of vital geo-political and geo-economic significance. While the region is still faced with considerable challenges, the last few years, they have actively joined in the prevailing global trend of peace, stability and cooperation for development, and earned higher standing among the international community.

As a reliable and responsible partner of the Middle Eastern and African countries, Vietnam consistently attaches importance to the traditional friendship and collaboration with them. We have to date established formal diplomatic relations with 69 out of the 70 countries in the region. The two sides regularly supported each other at international forums. Recently, the strong support from these countries enabled Vietnam to become a non-permanent member of the UNSC for the 2020-2021 term of office with a record number of vote.

Vietnam currently enjoys trade relations with all countries in the region. Bilateral trade turnover in 2018 amounted to US$ 17.5 billion, increasing by 300% against that of 2008. Vietnam’s investment into the region stands at US$ 2.6 billion, and has received investment worth US$7 billion from the region. Our wide range of cooperation models with African countries, from bilateral, trilateral to quadrilateral in agriculture, health and education have proven successful. Telecommunication and labor have also become the spotlights in the cooperation between Vietnam and countries in the region

However, our trade interaction with the region remains modest relative to the vast potential and robust growth of both sides. Trade between Vietnam and the region accounts for merely 3.5% of our US$480 billion trade turnover in 2018. This shows that there is immense room untapped for greater trade and economic cooperation. Therefore, we need to put in place effective measures, policies and mechanisms for cooperation in order to fully harness the potentials and strength of both sides.

We understand that on the 9th and 10th of September, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Vietnam shall, for the first time, hold the Conference “Meet Ambassadors from the Middle East and Africa 2019”. What is the purpose of this event?

Deepening the traditional bond of friendship and cooperation with the Middle Eastern and African countries has been a consistent priority in our foreign policy. We very much appreciate the vital role and contributions of the network of diplomatic missions, both resident and non-resident, representing the Middle Eastern and African countries, development partners and international organizations in Vietnam, which have been tirelessly reinforcing and cultivating this excellent bond.

It is in this spirit that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will, for the first time, hold the Conference “Meet Ambassadors from the Middle East and Africa 2019” on the 9th and 10th of September. The Conference aims to better harness the role of the network of Middle Eastern and African diplomatic missions in Vietnam, resident and non-resident alike. It is also a forum to foster networking and facilitate face-to-face dialogue between these diplomatic missions and various Vietnamese ministries, authorities, localities and business circles on concrete measures to further advance the multi-faceted cooperation between the two sides, particularly in economic field.

fostering mutual understanding and trust
Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyen Quoc Cuong took photo with Middle Eastern and African ambassadors in Ha Noi. (Photo: Tuan Anh)

Mr. Deputy Minister, what are the highlights of the Conference?

Fostering mutual understanding and trust is key in nurturing cooperation among nations in the world. To this end, the Conference shall be an occasion for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to inform the Middle Eastern and African heads of diplomatic missions of the recent economic and social developments in Vietnam and the priorities in our foreign policy, in particular regarding Middle Eastern and African countries.

The Conference will devote much of its agenda to discussing cooperation areas of mutual interest, such as trade, telecommunication and agriculture. Through the active collaboration and participation of a wide range of ministries, authorities, localities and business circles, the Conference will also include a Roundtable “On Improving the Effectiveness of Trade Cooperation between Vietnam and the Middle East and Africa”. This will be a forum for the representatives from various ministries and authorities, the Middle Eastern and African heads of mission, and the business circles from both sides to identify the current strengths and weaknesses of cooperation in trade.

The delegates will also attend seminars and visit the Institute of Agricultural Sciences of Vietnam and Viettel Group. The former is a leading think-tank in agri- and aquacultural sciences in Vietnam with a wealth of experience in cooperation with Africa, the latter is an exemplary business and a model of successful cooperation with Africa in the telecommunication.

Most notably, at the Conference, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc shall receive the Ambassadors, Chargés d’affaires and the representatives from international and regional organizations; and listen to suggestions from the diplomats representing the region. Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs Pham Binh Minh will deliver the opening remarks, and, together with the Ambassadors, visit the display booths of the Vietnamese businesses and localities. The participation of the Head of the Government and head of the diplomatic service is testimony to the special importance and keen attention that the leaders of Vietnam give to the Conference and the friendship and cooperation between Vietnam and the Middle Eastern and African region as a whole.

How have the preparations for the Conference, Mr. Deputy Minister?

The preparations for the Conference, in both content and logistics, are now largely completed. The Conference has received an enthusiastic response and broad participation from foreign representative offices and Vietnamese agencies and authorities, and the business community alike. At present, 17 resident Embassies of Middle Eastern and African countries in Hanoi, and 25 non-resident Middle Eastern and African Embassies within the region have registered for the event. There will be representatives from Embassies of development partner countries such as Japan, and various international development organizations and agencies: the African Union, the Food and Agriculture Organization and the Club of African Bankers. Most notably, for the first time, the African Union is represented at the event by the Commissioner for Economic Affairs, Mr. Victor Harrison. Evidently, our partners are deeply interested in and hold great expectation for this event.

From the Vietnamese side, attendance will include Ministries and agencies with significant ongoing cooperation with this region: the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the State Bank of Vietnam, along with the leaders of various localities: Ca Mau, Yen Bai, Hai Phong, Vinh Phuc, An Giang, Tuyen Quang, Binh Dinh, Dien Bien, Nghe An and Da Nang, to name a few. In addition, the event has received keen support from the Vietnamese business community. As of today, there have been nearly 50 businesses registering for the event, out of which 17 have registered for display booths to promote their goods and services.

What do you expect of this Conference, Mr. Deputy Minister?

Though held for the first time, the Conference “Meet Ambassadors from the Middle East and Africa 2019” has received wide participation and active support from various attendees, including the Middle Eastern and African diplomatic missions in Vietnam, international and regional organizations, and Vietnamese ministries, agencies, localities and businesses. The Conference is expected to bring about a useful opportunity for all parties to exchange information and share substantive experience. Through this process, we will arrive at new initiatives to build on existing strengths, address weaknesses, and fully harness the role of the diplomatic missions as pioneers, facilitators and companions in the process of economic cooperation between this region and Vietnam. The initiatives, ideas and recommendations brought forward at the Conference will create new drivers for cooperation between the two sides, thus playing an important part in realizing the shared goal of cooperation for joint development, and living up to the aspirations of the leaders and peoples of both Vietnam and Middle Eastern and African countries.

Thank you, Mr. Deputy Minister!

fostering mutual understanding and trust Vietnam calls for compliance to resolutions on Middle East issue

Vietnam supports Palestinian’s righteous fight for their inviolable rights, stated Ambassador Dang Dinh Quy, head of Vietnam's Permanent Mission to the UN.

fostering mutual understanding and trust Vietnam firms advised to penetrate into Middle East market

Besides traditional markets such as the US, EU and Japan, Vietnamese enterprises should make inroads into the Middle East market, according to experts.

fostering mutual understanding and trust Vietnam, Middle East boost trade, investment

Vietnam and the Middle East hold potential to boost trade and investment, as heard the Vietnam – Middle East trade forum held in Ho Chi ...

(TGVN)