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Vietnam expands relations with ASEAN Partners
Minh Vu 15:21, 2022/08/04
Canada, New Zealand, and the UK are three out of 11 Dialogue Partners of ASEAN.

Vietnam’s Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son held a series of meetings with his counterparts of ASEAN Partners on the sidelines of the 55th ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting (AMM-55) and Related Meetings held in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on August 3.

The meetings aimed at intensifying cooperation and mutual support at international forums through the talks with Canada’s Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade Mary Ng, New Zealand’s Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta, and UK Minister for Asia and the Middle East at the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office Amanda Milling.

 Vietnam's Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son and Canada’s Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade Mary Ng in Cambodia on August 3. Photos: Baoquocte

Canada

In talks with Mary Ng, Son suggested Canada should enhance cooperation in regional mechanisms, including ASEAN and the Mekong forums while supporting Vietnam in climate change response, increasing official development assistance (ODA), and encouraging Canadian investors in Vietnam. They discussed preparations for the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations, including more high-level contacts and dialogues, at the same time making effective use of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP).

Vietnam has been Canada’s largest trading partner in the ASEAN region since 2015. In 2021, the two-way merchandise trade totaled $10.5 billion, up from $8.9 billion in 2020. The priority areas in Vietnam for Canadian commercial interests are agriculture and agri-food, education, information and communication technologies, clean technology, aerospace, and life sciences.

 Vietnam's Minister of Foreign Affairs Bui Thanh Son and New Zealand’s Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta in the meeting on August 3.

New Zealand

In the meeting with New Zealand’s Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta, the two ministers agreed to implement annual cooperation mechanisms to increase the two-way trade by 20% to make it worth the Strategic Partnership while resuming cooperation in education, tourism, and people-to-people links.

Nanaia Mahuta affirmed that Canada continues maintaining ODA and scholarships for Vietnam and invited Son to visit New Zealand for co-chairing the 1st New Zealand-Vietnam Foreign Minister Meeting.

Vietnam and New Zealand target a two-way trade of US$2 billion by 2024. The trade target is believed to be achievable as both countries shared three free-trade agreements namely the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Area (AANZFTA) (signed in 2010), the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) (entered into force in December 2018), and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) (became valid in January 2022).

Vietnam's Minister of Foreign Affairs Bui Thanh Son and UK Minister for Asia and the Middle East at the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office Amanda Milling.  

The UK

Meanwhile, increasing high-ranking exchange visits and cooperation in climate adaptation as well as implementing the UK-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (UKVFTA) would be the main issues in the discussions between Son and Amanda Milling. Son expected UK investment in renewable energy, finance-banking, pharmaceuticals, IT, startups, and infrastructure while he requested the UK to help Vietnam join G7’s Just Energy Transition Partnership to benefit from support in green finance, technology transfer, and manpower training. 

Amanda and Son also discussed preparations for the celebration of 50 years of UK-Vietnam relations.

The UK and Vietnam have a strong bilateral trade relationship, with trade growing at 14% a year between 2010 and 2019. It also provides certainty to the UK and Vietnamese businesses, with trade in goods ranging from clothing and footwear to pharmaceuticals and seafood. In 2021, the two-way trade was $6.6 billion, up 17% year on year. It is expected to reach $10 billion in the next one or two years thanks to strong support from UKVFTA.

Canada, New Zealand, and the UK are among 11 Dialogue Partners of ASEAN, besides  Australia, China, the European Union, India, Japan, South Korea, Russia, and the US.

Apart from separate meetings with the aforementioned ministers, the Son met Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn, and Lao Foreign Minister Saleumxay Kommasith. 

The AMM-55 is taking place in Cambodia from July 31 to August 6 with an array of issues namely Covid-19 impact and recovery plans, regional security threats, the rivalry between major powers, the rise of mini alliances, growing arms race, selective imposition of economic sanctions.

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