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|President Donald Trump, Chairman Kim Jong Un|
Eight months later and over 2,200 kilometres further north, Vietnam’s capital city Hanoi is gearing up to host the second summit between the leaders of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the US, following the first summit in last June in Singapore.
This event will be the centre of global attention.
Earlier, on February 9, President Donald Trump announced on Twitter that he will meet with Chairman Kim Jong Un in Hanoi on February 27-28. “My representatives have just left North Korea after a very productive meeting and an agreed-upon time and date for the second summit with Kim Jong Un. It will take place in Hanoi, Vietnam, on February 27 and 28. I look forward to seeing Chairman Kim and advancing the cause of peace,” he wrote on Twitter.
Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc last week said that Vietnam will do its best to facilitate the summit.
Commenting on President Trump’s remarks in his latest State of the Union address on the upcoming summit, Vietnamese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Le Thi Thu Hang said Vietnam welcomes the summit and strongly supports the dialogue to maintain peace, security, and stability on the Korean Peninsula.
Vietnam also stands ready to actively contribute to and co-operate with both sides to ensure the success of the summit, the official said.
While highlighting the significance of the summit for Vietnam, Carl Thayer, a renowned Southeast Asia specialist teaching at the Australian Defence Force Academy and the Asia-Pacific Centre for Security Studies, said, “This increases the salience of Vietnam’s role as an independent facilitator of the US-North Korea dialogue to all stakeholders.”
According to the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), Vietnam has been selected to organise the summit thanks to the country’s big economic achievements, good relations with the DPRK and the US, positive security activities, and its experience in organising multilateral conferences and in international conciliation. Besides, Vietnam is a reliable and responsible partner of the international community. It is expected that nearly 3,000 Vietnamese and foreign journalists will follow this important event.
Strong trade ties with the US
Currently, Vietnam has warm relations with both sides.
It is expected that President Trump will have bilateral meetings with Vietnamese leaders, talking about the flourishing US-Vietnam co-operation across many sectors, with a focus on trade and investment.
It is also expected that Vietnam and the US will sign several bilateral co-operation deals on trade and investment.
According to statistics from the Ministry of Planning and Investment, as of January 20, 2019, the US was the 11th largest foreign investors in Vietnam, with 908 projects registered at over $9 billion.
Pham Quang Vinh, former MoFA Deputy Minister and former Vietnamese Ambassador to the US, told VIR that the US is one of the biggest trade and investment partners of the region and Vietnam alike.
“However, US investment is different from that of many other nations. Specifically, it has been able to greatly stimulate the relationship between Vietnam and the US in all sectors. It has also created a big impetus for a rise in investment of multinational corporations and US companies, and even of investors from other nations into Vietnam,” Vinh said. “Once US companies have invested in Vietnam, they showed their confidence in the market. That is why over the past many years, the US has remained an important investment source for Vietnam.”
“During our meetings with many large US groups and investors, we have seen that they have been paying great attention to and even felt quite excited about doing business and investing in Vietnam. They consider Vietnam an attractive and stable investment location whose role in the region is on the rise,” he said. “For example, big US corporations like Coca-Cola and Intel have been investing in Vietnam. They told us that they will not only stay in the country for the long-term, but will also expand investments here,” he said.
Sharing lessons with DPRK
This week will also see DPRK Chairman Un pay an official friendship visit to Vietnam to meet with the country’s top leaders.
Earlier on February 12-14, Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister, Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh visited the DPRK at the invitation of Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho.
Vietnam has always attached great importance to relations between the two nations, which was forged by President Ho Chi Minh and President Kim Il-sung, according to the MoFA.
Currently, the DPRK is seeking to see how Vietnam has been able to achieve such economic success, and Vietnam is ready to share its experience.
As of January 20, 2019, the DPRK had five investment projects in Vietnam, registered at $1.2 million.
By the mid-1980s, Vietnam remained one of the poorest economies in the world, with per capita GDP sitting at between $200 and $300. However, in 1986, the government introduced doi moi, a series of economic and political reforms, and steered the country to become a socialist-oriented market economy.
Today, the country is one of the stars of the emerging markets. Its annual economic growth rate has been averaging at 6-7 per cent, and its exports are worth as much as the total value of its GDP. Anything from Nike sportswear to Samsung smartphones are manufactured in this ASEAN nation.
How did this miraculous growth come about?
According to analysts from the World Bank and Brookings Institution, an American research group, Vietnam’s economic rise can be explained by three main factors: “First, it has embraced trade liberalisation with gusto. Second, it has complemented external liberalisation with domestic reforms through deregulation and lowering the cost of doing business. Finally, Vietnam has invested heavily in human and physical capital, predominantly through public investments.”
In 2018, weathering difficulties, the Vietnamese economy reached a very impressive growth rate at an estimated 7.08 per cent, the highest level since 2008. The growth quality has significantly improved in almost all indexes.
This rate has also been higher than the target of 6.7 per cent set earlier by the National Assembly, and recent forecasts by high-profile international organisations, such as Standard Chartered Bank (7 per cent), the World Bank (6.8 per cent), the Asian Development Bank (6.9 per cent), Fitch Solutions (7 per cent), and Union Bank of Switzerland (6.6 per cent).
Vietnam is now making great efforts to reach a growth rate higher than last year, with the major impetuses coming from surging domestic production and consumption, a rise in export markets with new-generation free trade agreements (FTAs).
Currently, Vietnam is one of the most active countries with 12 FTAs signed and four more under negotiation.
Besides, the country’s international prestige is one the rise. It was selected as the only candidate in the Asia-Pacific region for a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for the 2020-2021 tenure at a monthly meeting of the Asia-Pacific Group at the UN on May 25, 2018. The voting will be held by the UN General Assembly in June 2019.
Also for the first time, in the 2008-2009 tenure, Vietnam performed well its role as a non-permanent member of the UNSC. Next year, Vietnam will become the chair of the ASEAN.