|Royal residence: The Grand Palace in Thailand. — Photo courtesy of Thailand Embassy
(VNS) The King's name, which lit-erally means "Strength of the Land, Incomparable Power", has always been true to its meaning for His Majesty has consistently performed his royal duties to improve the well-being of the Thai people throughout his 67-year-long reign. And with His Majesty's health regaining strength, His Majesty has recently resumed his royal duties.
Many decades ago, His Majesty initiated Royal Projects to help hill-tribe people switch from slash-and-burn cultivation of opium poppies to sustainable food crops. The projects improved the environment and created a better livelihood for the people.
Moreover, the King's "Sufficiency Economy" philosophy set down the guiding principles for Thais to become more self-sufficient while living in tune with nature. He spent decades of tireless efforts to improve the quality of life of his people, and this has been recognised throughout the world. His Majesty was honoured with the presentation of the United Nations first Human Development Achievement Award by Secretary-General Kofi Annan in 2006.
This year marks a monumental mile stone in Thailand-Viet Nam relations with the official visit to Thailand of General Secretary of the Communist Party of Viet Nam, Nguyen Phu Trong, in June. During the visit, the Prime Minister of Thailand, Yingluck Shinawatra, agreed to elevate bilateral relations to the level of Strategic Partnership, the first of its kind between Thailand and an ASEAN Member State. The agreement encompasses co-operation ranging from political, defence and security to economic, social and people-to-people. It also takes in regional and international cooperation.
The first Thailand-Viet Nam Joint Commission on Bilateral Co-operation was convened on November 4-5 in Bangkok. Co-chaired by the foreign ministers of both countries, the meeting discussed all bilateral and multilateral issues as well as finalising a plan of action to implementing the partnership (2014-18).
The agreement will lead to Thailand and Viet Nam intensifying high-level political and defence consultations, increasing bilateral trade to US$15 billion by 2020, increasing tourism, enhancing regional and people-to-people connections – and strengthening the centrality of ASEAN in handling regional challenges.
Economic relations between Thailand and Viet Nam have prospered. In the first nine months of this year, two-way trade rose to more than $7.5 billion, an increase of nearly eight per cent year-on-year. This reflects in the annual Thailand Trade Exhibition and Thailand Outlet Fair, which are popular with Vietnamese.
In terms of investment, Thailand is among the top 10 countries investing in Viet Nam. It has about $6 billion in nearly 300 projects – and several mega-projects in the pipeline. In the first nine months of 2013, Thailand has invested in 22 new projects worth more than $316 million.
The exchange of educators and students are also on the rise. A large number of Vietnamese students continue to choose Thai universities for their studies, at both the undergraduate and post-graduate levels. The Thai Government continues to provide scholarships and training in areas that Thailand has an advantage, such as agriculture, tourism and hospitality, logistics and health.
It is evident that people-to-people relations are the foundation for the enhancement of friendship between Viet Nam and Thailand. Many years ago, during his fight for Viet Nam's independence, President Ho Chi Minh made the Northeast of Thailand his home.
Now Thai people of Vietnamese descent are thriving and act as a bridge of goodwill between the two peoples. Thus, we can rest assured that the Strategic Partnership is built on a solid foundation of respect, understanding and trust between the peoples of Viet Nam and Thailand.
In conclusion, as our vision synchronised, our priorities synergised and our potential capitalised, Thailand is committed to working with Viet Nam to realise the Strategic Partnership for the mutual benefit of our two nations, the region and the world at large. — VNS