Viet Nam and Middle East, Africa have more rooms to expand co-operation

Tuesday, Sep 10, 2019 07:44

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Pham Binh Minh shakes hands with Ambassadors from Africa at the ‘Meet Ambassadors from the Middle East and Africa 2019’ event in Ha Noi on Monday.—VNA/VNS Photo Truong Vi

Viet Nam and Middle Eastern and African countries have a lot of room to tap their co-operation potential, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Pham Binh Minh told Middle Eastern and African ambassadors at an event in Ha Noi on Monday.

The ‘Meet Ambassadors from the Middle East and Africa 2019’ event, being hosted by Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday and Tuesday, aims to open a platform for the region’s ambassadors and Vietnamese authorities and businesses to foster co-operation.

“Sharing aspirations for peace and achieving Sustainable Development Goals 2030 Agenda, and also being at the same pace of development, having highly supplementary economies, Viet Nam and the Middle Eastern and African region have advantages to strengthen collaboration in potential fields such as trade, investment, energy, environment, information technology, communication, agriculture, labour and tourism,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.

He said diplomatic relations between Viet Nam and the Middle East and Africa have expanded. Bilateral trade has grown positively, while partnerships in telecommunications, labour, education and healthcare have made progress, and Vietnamese soldiers have contributed to UN peacekeeping efforts in Africa.

However, the two sides’ co-operation has faced challenges including a lack of information and understanding about each other’s markets, business practices and legal systems. Geographical distance is one of the main reasons making bilateral business efficiency poor.

“Despite being an open economy having 16 free trade agreements with other countries, Viet Nam has not signed a free trade agreement with a Middle Eastern or African country,” the politician said.

Deputy Prime Minister Minh proposed the two sides strengthen collaboration in economics, which serves as leverage for political co-operation.

He expected ambassadors and diplomats representing agencies at the conference would speak with Vietnamese partners to identify potential areas of co-operation.

“Viet Nam has strength in agricultural and fishery production, electronics, mechanics, construction materials, wood processing and farm produce production. Viet Nam is ready to offer training and connect with the Middle East and Africa to seek solutions for agricultural development and provide a young and skillful labour force in information and technology,” Minh told the conference.

Viet Nam also wants to step up co-operation in sectors the Middle East and Africa are strong in. These include investment, energy, labour, fuel for agricultural and industrial processing sectors.

Besides bilateral co-operation, Viet Nam and the Middle East and Africa need to collaborate at multilateral forums such as UN, Non-Alignment Movement and strengthen co-operative mechanisms between Viet Nam and the African Union, and between Middle Eastern and African countries with regional organisations.

At the event, Israel’s Ambassador to Viet Nam Nadav Eshcar said:

“We have high technology which can be very relevant in Viet Nam in a variety of fields including agriculture, education, science, defence, tourism, medical field, innovation and start-ups.

“Viet Nam has very strong ambition to develop start-ups. Sectors are doing very well and we are also participating in this effort.

“We are exceeding billion-dollar trade and we are about to sign free trade agreement very soon. We will make the numbers even much bigger. We almost concluded negotiations so I hope early next year we will have an agreement,” he told Viet Nam News.

“We hope to see for the next year two prime ministers visiting each other. Vietnamese PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc is very eager about the fourth industrial revolution. I think we can offer so many things on this issue such as Artificial Intelligence, big data. I also know that Israel’s PM is very eager to visit Viet Nam. These two top visits will be on our top agenda and hopefully we will materialise as soon as possible,” he said.

Elia Kaiyamo, non-resident ambassador of the Republic of Namibia to Viet Nam, said the two countries have co-operated for many years.

“We have co-operation in production of rice. Viet Nam has helped us produce rice in Namibia.

“Viet Nam and Namibia need to improve bilateral trade as the conference is important for us to start this co-operation. The focus on the co-operation is to produce more rice from Namibia into Viet Nam and co-operation in agriculture needs to be improved,” he said. — VNS

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