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Aligned interests to take Vietnam-Germany relations to new height
Nguyen Tung 20:49, 2021/10/15
Strong commitments to uphold multilateralism and fight climate change are factors to spur the Vietnam-Germany relations in the next decade.

Shared interests between Vietnam and Germany in a wide range of issues are set to take the bilateral relations to a new height in the next decade.

 Overview of the online conference. Photos: Nguyen Tung

Experts shared the view at a virtual conference discussing the 10th anniversary of the Vietnam-Germany Strategic Partnership (2011-2021) jointly held today [October 15] by the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam and the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS).

“Ten years on since the signing of the Hanoi Joint Declaration on Vietnam-Germany Strategic Partnership, Vietnam-Germany relations have taken a significant leap forward,” said To Anh Dung, deputy minister of Foreign Affairs.

To date, Germany is Vietnam’s largest economic partner in the EU, and Vietnam holds the same status in ASEAN as Germany, Dung said.

During the span of ten years, bilateral trade turnover doubled from US$5.6 billion in 2011 to $10 billion in 2020, while foreign direct investment (FDI) from Germany to Vietnam also increased two-fold to $2.2 billion in 404 valid projects from nearly $1 billion ten years ago.

“Germany is also one of Vietnam’s major partners in education and training,” he said, referring to over 160 ongoing cooperation programs and 7,000 Vietnamese students studying in Germany.

“Once become operational, the Vietnam-Germany University, a flagship project between the two countries, would be one of the top education institutions in Southeast Asia,” Dung noted.

Looking to the future, Dung expressed his belief in the strong progress of Vietnam-Germany relations, especially as the German Government with its Indo-Pacific policy aims for a greater presence in the region, focusing on cooperating with ASEAN and Vietnam in various fields.

 Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs To Anh Dung. 

Meanwhile, the resolution of Vietnam’s 13th National Party Congress stressed the priority for Vietnam to strengthen relations with strategic partners, including Germany as its key partner in Europe.

“The EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) and the upcoming EU-Vietnam Investment Protection Agreement (EVIPA) are no doubt the driving forces to boost trade and economic cooperation, one of the major pillars in the bilateral partnership,” he stressed.

Director for East Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific of the German Federal Foreign Office, Martin Thuemmel, noted the past ten years have shown the significant role of the strategic partnership for both Vietnam and Germany.

Thuemmel mentioned Vietnam’s act of kindness in donating face masks for Germany when the Covid-19 pandemic first broke out in 2020, while the latter has so far provided more than 3.5 million doses of vaccine for Vietnam in response to the current outbreak.

As the global context has drastically changed since the day both countries established the strategic partnership, Thuemmel noted the world’s attention now lies on the Indo-Pacific, for which security and peace are a priority for both Vietnam and Germany.

Thuemmel called for stronger cooperation between the two countries to uphold multilateralism and the rule of law for mutual benefits, referring to Vietnam as a key actor in ASEAN, an organization that has a strong view on multilateral mechanisms in resolving regional issues.

“With climate change also a major issue affecting countries around the world, Vietnam and Germany should work to mitigate such impacts for sustainable development,” he added.

Thuemmel also expected the EVFTA to play a key role in driving economic and trade cooperation between Vietnam and the EU in general, and Vietnam-Germany, in particular.

 German Ambassador to Vietnam Guido Hildner.

Sharing Thuemmel’s view, German Ambassador to Vietnam Guido Hildner said as two countries play a key role in their respective regions, both have common interests in maintaining the current world order that is based on the rule of law and a strong commitment to multilateralism.

Hildner cited the fact that both the EU and ASEAN entered into a strategic partnership last December when Vietnam was serving as the ASEAN Chair and Germany as EU Council President.

“It is desirable for Germany for ASEAN to grow strong and have a greater role in regional issues,” he said.

Politics and economics: an inseparable duo

 Former Vietnamese Ambassador to Germany Doan Xuan Hung.

Former Vietnamese Ambassador to Germany Doan Xuan Hung stressed strong mutual trust between the two nations that was thanks to a common view on regional and global issues.

“Vietnam and Germany with their roles and status would serve as the bridge to strengthen ASEAN-EU linkage,” he said.

Going forward, Hung said economics and politics will contribute to one goal, noting “effective trade and investment results would bring high political trust and the other way around.”

Hung added the current trade turnover of $10 billion or FDI of $2 billion remained modest compared to that of other countries signing strategic partnerships with Vietnam such as Japan or South Korea, or even with the size of the German economy with $3.5 trillion in annual trade revenue.

“More efforts are needed for both sides to further harness the past achievements and realize the full potential of the strategic partnership,” said Hung.

On this issue, Vietnam’s Ambassador to Germany Nguyen Minh Vu expected the EVFTA would further boost trade relations.

Vu pointed out the huge interests of many small and medium German businesses in doing business in Vietnam, expecting a wave of investment from Germany would come to Vietnam once the pandemic is contained.

Head of Division East Asia and South East Asia under the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development Bettina Horstmann noted with Vietnam seen as a key partner in Southeast Asia, Germany is planning to help the country set up a pandemic response center to deal with future disasters.

Horstmann stressed the current pandemic situation should be seen as an opportunity for two sides to further push for the realization of priority goals agreed under the strategic partnership, including efforts against climate change and a push for sustainable development.

German firms with strong expertise in sustainable development are capable of supporting Vietnam in the construction of climate resilience cities or accelerate the digitalization process, she added.

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