|Chairman of the National Assembly Vương Đình Huệ. — VNA/VNS Photo|
HÀ NỘI — An official visit to the Philippines by Chairman of the National Assembly (NA) Vương Đình Huệ is expected to help reinforce the two countries’ strategic partnership.
The trip from November 23 to 25, made at the invitation of President of the Philippine Senate Juan Miguel Zubiri, is the first official visit to the country by a key leader of Việt Nam in 2022 and by an NA chairperson of Việt Nam for 16 years. Huệ is also one of the first foreign parliamentary leaders to visit the Philippines after the country successfully held the general elections in May 2022 and elected new leaders to its House of Representatives and Senate in July.
The visit demonstrates the importance Việt Nam attaches to the new leadership of the Philippines and the countries’ strategic partnership after they celebrated the 45th anniversary of diplomatic relations last year.
Thriving strategic partnership
Despite difficulties caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the two sides have effectively maintained contact at all levels. During the visit to the Philippines from June 29 to July 1 by Vice President of Vietnam Võ Thị Ánh Xuân to attend the oath-taking ceremony of President Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos, both the President and Vice President of the Philippines affirmed that they highly attached importance to the friendship and multifaceted cooperation with Việt Nam, and agreed that the two sides should evenly promote fields of cooperation in line with the strategic partnership.
Trade cooperation is a highlight in bilateral relations. Trade reached a record US$6.8 billion in 2021 and over $6 billion in the first nine months of 2022.
However, investment ties remain modest. By the end of December 2021, the Philippines had 82 valid projects worth $615 million in Việt Nam, ranking 28th among the 140 countries and territories investing in the latter. Meanwhile, Việt Nam had only five investment projects worth $4 million in the Philippines.
Defence, security and ocean partnerships have developed substantively and effectively. Besides, there remains much room for agricultural cooperation, especially when Việt Nam is a leading exporter of farm produce in the region and the Philippines is the second most populous country in ASEAN. Collaboration in other areas like education, tourism, and people-to-people exchange has also been bouncing back after a hiatus caused by the pandemic.
In addition, the two countries have also shown timely and effective coordination in many issues of common concern at regional and international forums.
Elevating parliamentary ties
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the parliaments of Việt Nam and the Philippines have had few chances to hold mutual visits over the last two years, and they also haven’t signed any cooperation agreement. However, bilateral meetings have still been maintained on the sidelines of international and regional inter-parliamentary conferences.
According to Chairman of the NA Committee for External Relations Vũ Hải Hà, Việt Nam is one of the three strategic partners of the Philippines, apart from the US and Japan. In the coming visit, NA Chairman Huệ and Philippine leaders will discuss measures for fostering bilateral cooperation and strengthening the strategic partnership.
Philippine Ambassador to Vietnam Meynardo LB. Montealegre noted bilateral relations were years-long friendly and cooperative ties. In 2021, the countries marked 45 years of their diplomatic links, which were upgraded to the strategic partnership in 2015.
The current relations are oriented by the action plan for implementing the strategic partnership for 2019-2024, which covers areas such as politics, defence, security, healthcare, economics and tourism, according to the ambassador.
He added aside from attending parliamentary cooperation activities, the top legislator of Việt Nam would also meet local senior leaders and enterprises, which would also contribute to the strategic partnership.
The diplomat expressed his belief that there would be several opportunities for enhanced collaboration, especially in economy, healthcare, food security, climate change response and tourism. — VNS