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Moon Jae-in expects to elevate South Korea-Vietnam relations
Minh Vu 18:21, 2022/02/09
South Korea is the second biggest ODA supplier and largest investor in Vietnam with prominent names including Samsung, Shinhan, LG, Lotte, and Hyundai.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in has expressed his hope to upgrade the relations with Vietnam to Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.

 South Korean President Moon Jae-in (R) and Vietnamese Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son during their meeting at the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on Feb 9, 2022. Photo: Yonhap

Moon said at the meeting with Vietnamese Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son in Seoul on February 9. Son is on a three-day visit to the country for preparations for the 30th anniversary of diplomatic ties (1992-2022).

He expected Vietnam to continue facilitating South Korean firms doing business in Vietnam, mostly those operating in infrastructure, finance, and running big projects.

Moon affirmed that Vietnam is the key partner in South Korea’s New Southern Policy (NSP) that promotes stronger ties with ASEAN member states and India.

The South Korean president highly appreciated Vietnam’s role in coordinating the South Korea-ASEAN relations for the 2021-2024 period, hoping that Son’s visit would boost the bilateral ties and the linkage with ASEAN.

Son, who is the first Vietnamese foreign minister to visit South Korea after five years, will work with local authorities on programs for the commemorations and further cooperation in politics, defense and security, and socio-economic fields.

During the visit, Son and South Korean authorities will exchange views on the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)’s Southeast Asia Regional Program (SEARP) in 2022-2025.

Strengthened relations

According to Vietnamese Ambassador to South Korea Nguyen Vu Tung, Vietnam-South Korea relations have been enhanced despite Covid-19.

The two sides exchanged high-ranking visits, including the visit paid by Chairman of Vietnam’s National Assembly Vuong Dinh Hue in December 2021 and Vietnamese Minister of Industry and Trade Nguyen Hong Dien in the same month. In 2020 and 2021, Speaker of South Korea’s National Assembly Park Byeong-seug and Foreign Ministers Kang Kyung-wha and Chung Eui-yong toured Vietnam. 

Trade and investment become the highlight in bilateral relations with the two-way trade rose by 20% to US$70.38 billion as of end-November 2021. The two countries target the value to reach $100 billion in 2023 and $150 billion in 2030.

As of August 2021, South Korea was the biggest investor in Vietnam pouring $72.34 billion in more than 9,100 projects. It was the second largest official development assistance (ODA) provider to Vietnam with commitments worth $1.5 billion in 2016-2020.

Cooperation in multilateral forums has been strengthened within ASEAN and ASEAN-led mechanisms, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), the Asia Pacific Parliamentary Forum (APPF), the ASEAN-Korea Free Trade Agreement (AKFTA), the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), and those in the Mekong region.

Ambassador Nguyen Vu Tung stressed the importance of mutual support during the Covid-19 pandemic. South Korea donated Vietnam 1.4 million vaccine doses and South Korean firms contributed more than $20 million to Vietnam’s Covid-19 Vaccine Fund. Meanwhile, Vietnam increased its urea supply by 30% to the South Korean market while local authorities facilitated the operations of South Korean firms in their localities. In addition, the cooperation between the localities of the two countries becomes essential for economic ties.

The last but not least is people-to-people links. According to the ambassador, Vietnam is home to more than 200,000 South Koreans while the Vietnamese community in South Korea numbers approximately 240,000. Notably, Hallyu or the Korean Wave, the phenomenal growth of Korean culture and popular culture encompassing everything from music, movies, drama to online games and Korean cuisine, in Vietnam is quite strong. In addition, the influence of South Korean tactician Park Hang-Seo who is now head coach of the Vietnamese National Football Team, is undeniable. 

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