|Vietnamese Ambassador to the RoK Nguyễn Vũ Tùng. — VNA/VNS Photo|
Foreign Minister Bùi Thanh Sơn is paying an official visit to the RoK and attend the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)-run Southeast Asia Regional Programme (SEARP) ministerial meeting from February 9-11 at the invitation of his RoK counterpart Chung Eui-yong and OECD Secretary General Mathias Cormann.
Vietnamese Ambassador to the RoK Nguyễn Vũ Tùng spoke to Vietnam News Agency about the significance of the visit.
Foreign Minister Bùi Thanh Sơn's visit to Korea is the first official activity to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Việt Nam and the Republic of Korea. How do you evaluate the significance of this visit?
There are some "firsts" in Minister Bùi Thanh Sơn's visit to South Korea. This is the first visit of the Vietnamese Foreign Minister to Korea in the past five years. This is also the first visit by Minister Bùi Thanh Sơn as the head of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Việt Nam after being appointed. This is also the first high-ranking Vietnamese delegation to visit South Korea, opening the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries (1992-2022).
In that context, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic is still complicated in both countries, this trip continues to show the determination to keep momentum and strengthen bilateral relations. Minister Sơn will have meetings with South Korean officials, focusing on discussing action programmes for the anniversary year as well as clarifying the orientations for bilateral relations.
Priority cooperation areas include political diplomacy, national defence and security, socio-economic cooperation for peace, stability, cooperation and development of the two countries and the two regions of Southeast Asia and Northeast Asia as well as other regions.
The two sides will also work to strengthen existing areas of cooperation and open up new ones, restoring areas of cooperation interrupted during the pandemic.
The visit will contribute to strongly promoting bilateral relations, in line with the common orientation between the two countries of elevating the relationship framework to a comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership.
During this visit, Minister Bùi Thanh Sơn will also meet representatives of the Vietnamese community in South Korea.
The minister will attend the OECD Southeast Asia Programme, chaired by the Republic of Korea, as Co-Chair of the programme for the 2022-25 period. In addition, as a representative of Việt Nam in the role of coordinator for ASEAN-Korea cooperation in the 2020-23 period, the minister will also speak with his South Korean partners on this topic.
The trip demonstrates Việt Nam’s policy on advancing multilateral diplomacy adopted at the 13th National Party Congress, under which Việt Nam is resolved to actively and positively contribute to multilateral forums and mechanisms, firstly the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
The trip would bring about new cooperative opportunities and sectors between Việt Nam and the RoK in efforts to promote multilateralism and strengthen multilateral cooperation mechanisms, including ASEAN and the RoK’s New Southern Policy Plus.
Could you tell us about the achievements of the Việt Nam-Korea cooperation relationship in the past and the potential for bilateral cooperation in the future?
We have witnessed the very dynamic development of bilateral relations between Việt Nam and RoK in recent years. Although the COVID-19 pandemic has caused many difficulties in implementing cooperation activities, overall, the bilateral relationship still maintains its momentum.
High-level delegation exchanges still take place. In addition to phone calls and online exchanges, the two sides also held high-level visits. The highlight is the visit to RoK by the Chairman of the National Assembly Vương Đình Huệ in December 2021 and after that the visit of Minister of Industry and Trade Nguyễn Hồng Diên.
Speaker of the Republic of Korea's National Assembly Park Byeong-seug, Korean Foreign Ministers Kang Kyung-wha and Chung Eui-yong also visited Việt Nam in 2020 and 2021.
Key areas of bilateral relations continue to develop. Two-way trade reached US$70.38 billion as of November 2021, up 20 per cent year-on-year.
Last year, the RoK was Việt Nam’s second largest investor with total capital reaching $7.4 billion, a rise of 85 per cent from 2020. The RoK continued to be Việt Nam’s second biggest development assistance supplier with a commitment of $1.5 billion in 2016-2020.
Meanwhile, the Vietnamese community in Korea (estimated at over 240,000 people) and Koreans in Việt Nam (about 200,000 people) continue to overcome difficulties, stabilise their lives, and strengthen adaptation in the context of the pandemic.
Coordination between the two countries in multilateral forums has been further strengthened, including ASEAN and regional multilateral mechanisms led by ASEAN, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum, the Asia-Europe Cooperation Forum (ASEM), the Asia-Pacific Parliamentary Forum as well as in multilateral trade mechanisms such as the ASEAN-Korea Free Trade Agreement, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) and even in sub-regional mechanisms such as the Mekong area.
In particular, the two countries have effectively supported each other in necessary situations. The Korean government and people have donated over 1.4 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to Việt Nam. Korean businesses and friendship organisations have contributed more than $20 million to Việt Nam's Vaccine Fund as well as much in-kind aid to help Việt Nam fight the pandemic.
Meanwhile, Vietnamese enterprises have ensured the supply of up to 30 per cent of urea demand for the Korean market and localities of Việt Nam have actively helped Korean enterprises to ensure production and business during the pandemic.
The development of the fields of cooperation mentioned above has contributed to raising the level of trust and understanding between the two countries at national, local and people levels. That is the basis for the two countries to upgrade the relationship framework to a comprehensive strategic partnership in the near future.
The potential for bilateral cooperation is still great. The two sides set a goal of increasing bilateral trade turnover to $100 billion in 2023 and $150 billion in 2030 in the direction of a more balanced trade and encouraging Korean enterprises to expand their investment scale in Việt Nam while moving Vietnamese businesses to the next level in supply and value chains.
What are some highlights of the activities to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries (1992-2022)?
The two sides have been actively preparing and implementing many activities to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. First of all, the two countries will organise State-level visits and events and exchange high-level greetings on the anniversary of December 22, whereby we are expected to officially upgrade the framework of bilateral relations.
Friendship associations and localities of the two sides will also organise commemorative activities. Exchange activities, cultural promotion, art performances and sports competitions will be held in both countries.
In particular, the foreign ministries of the two countries invited a number of prominent figures who contributed to the formation and development of bilateral relations, participated in the review of 30 years of relations as well as proposed new measures to promote bilateral relations.
The embassies of the two countries held a contest and voted for the official logo to be used in these commemorative activities. I very much hope that the commemorative activities taking place this year will contribute to further enhancing mutual understanding, friendship and trust, thereby contributing to new momentum for Việt Nam-Korea relations. — VNS