The current relationship between the UK and Vietnam is laden with unbridled opportunity in further enhancing their strategic partnership with a focus on economic and defence cooperation, according to Vietnam’s Ambassador to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland Tran Ngoc An speaking on the sidelines of the ongoing 30th Diplomatic Conference in Hanoi.
Vietnam’s Ambassador to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland Tran Ngoc An
To mark the 45th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties in 2018, the two countries will organize a series of activities, including political forums, economic events, art performances and exchange visits to further expand their strategic partnership. Ambassador An added that Deputy Prime Minister cum Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh is scheduled to lead a Government delegation on a visit to the UK later this year in order to conduct negotiations. The Vietnamese Embassy will also hold activities to popularize the country’s image abroad.
The Ambassador pointed to how UK-Vietnam ties are flourishing in all aspects and are currently in their most prosperous period ever, even in exchange visits and political relations.
Despite the complexities of rapid developments in trade and foreign relations around the world, especially in the age of twitter, there are still opportunities. For example, Brexit will greatly affect the whole of the EU and the UK. This, however, presents an opportunity for Vietnam and the UK to further foster their strategic partnership to create new avenues for trade. Once the UK leaves the European Union, it will have to look towards building its own links with the Asia-Pacific region where Vietnam’s rapid growth makes it a ray of light and one of the most attractive destinations for UK businesses. This offers a huge chance for Vietnam to boost trade ties with the UK.
The countries’ bilateral trade swelled to US$6.1 billion last year, with Vietnam exporting US$5.4 billion and importing US$700 million worth of goods, resulting in a huge trade surplus with the UK. British investment in Vietnam are following an upward trend and over the first five months of 2018, the turnover in bilateral trade grew by 40%. The UK is now one of the 15 biggest foreign investors in Vietnam. The number of UK visitors arriving in Vietnam also increased, with nearly 300,000 tourists travelling to the Southeast Asian country.
Regarding opportunities for post-Brexit economic cooperation between the two countries, Ambassador An said that despite there being plenty of opportunity, it is not so easy to capitalize on the promise. Vietnamese businesses should take a more active role in conducting trade and investment promotion activities, as UK investors have paid due attention to the improvement of the investment environment and business transparency.
So long as Vietnam continues to improve the investment environment and administration reform, then ever greater numbers of UK investors will take an interest in the country, said the Ambassador.
As the second biggest economy in the EU and the fifth in the world, the UK has taken an interest in most of Vietnam’s economic sectors in which it shares a strength, such as services, finance, insurance, hi-tech consultancy and information.
The two countries’ economies can be seen to supplement each other rather than offer competition. The UK is home to one of the world’s leading trade and financial centres, giving a tremendous opportunity for Vietnam to draw not only direct but also indirect investments through the UK’s financial funds.
For defence cooperation, Ambassador An said this is a highlight of bilateral ties. The two countries have established military attaché offices, conducted exchanges of military delegations and shared experience. Vietnam is one of few countries that the UK holds a deputy ministerial-level defence policy consultation mechanism with.
The UK and Vietnam have closely coordinated in UN peacekeeping activities. Recently, the UK provided support in the training and transfer of a level-2 field hospital in South Sudan to the Vietnamese army. The two sides have regularly exchanged visits, and, showing the advanced level of bilateral strategic partnership, high-ranking exchange visits are expected to take place later this year.