Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Nguyen Minh Hang

New Development Step in Vietnam - Africa Relations

Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Nguyen Minh Hang has granted an interview to the press highlighting the potential of Vietnam - Africa relations.
February 12, 2024 | 20:24

"Vietnam officially becoming an observer of the African Union (AU) is an important event, marking a new development in relations between Vietnam and Africa in general and with the AU in particular," Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyen Minh Hang emphasized in an interview with The World & Vietnam newspapers.

On December 15, 2023, Vietnam officially became an observer of the African Union (AU). This is an important event, marking a new development step in the relationship between Vietnam and Africa in general and with the AU in particular, the result after two years of actively implementing the project "Developing Vietnam - African Union relations for the 2021-2025 period" approved by the Prime Minister in April 2021.

Vietnam always values friendly and traditional relations with African partners and wishes to strengthen cooperation with the region both at bilateral and multilateral levels. These are friends who have stood side by side with Vietnam in the past struggle for national liberation as well as in current national construction and development, Hang stressed.

New Development Step in Vietnam - Africa Relations
Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyen Minh Hang. Photo: The World & Vietnam newspapers

For many years before establishing official relations with the AU, Vietnam has always paid attention to, closely followed developments and highly appreciated the role of the AU in the political - security, economic and social life of African countries. Vietnam also always supports the AU to have an increasingly important voice and position at regional and international forums, according to Hang.

Regarding economic cooperation, in 2023, the total two-way trade turnover between Vietnam and Africa will reach USD 5.78 billion, an increase of 5.7% compared to 2022, including two major trading partners in the world is Ivory Coast with USD 1.35 billion and South Africa with USD 1.16 billion. Notably, the turnover of many agricultural and aquatic products exported to Africa by Vietnam has increased significantly, such as coffee export to Algeria increased by 88.4%, South Africa increased by 37% Egypt increased by 28%, and rice export to Ghana increased by 57%.

In the context that African countries are making efforts to implement the Agenda 2063 for peace and security in Africa, over the past time, with a proactive, positive, and responsible spirit, Vietnam has made practical contributions to the encouraging initial achievements of the program, especially in the four areas of preserving security and peace; ensure food security; develop digital infrastructure and improve the quality of human resources.

Moreover, Africa is the first and only continent where Vietnam sends forces to participate in United Nations peacekeeping operations. Vietnam has deployed 792 military and police personnel to three UN Peacekeeping Missions in the Central African Republic (CAR), South Sudan, Abyei region, and a European Union Training Mission in the CAR.

Vietnam's participation has been recognized and highly appreciated by the international community, the AU, the governments, and people of host countries, not only in supporting security and safety for people in the region; and force deployment but also helps improve living standards, healthcare and education services, and promote people-to-people exchanges. During that process, Vietnam also received close coordination from the AU and relevant member countries to complete international tasks at the missions.

Furthermore, Vietnam has shared experiences and cooperated in sustainable agricultural development with African countries such as Mozambique, Guinea, Benin, Senegal, and Sierra Leone, among others, helping many African countries improve farming productivity, increasing the value of agricultural products, and contributing to ensuring food security.

Besides, in the field of communications and digital infrastructure, the Military Industry and Telecoms Group (Viettel) has implemented many very successful investment projects in Africa such as in Burundi, Mozambique, and Tanzania, helping especially people in remote areas, access information technology, knowledge, and development, implementing digital transformation projects for governments; contributing to shortening the gap on digitalization between regions.

Hang highlighted that Viettel's success in the telecommunications sector in recent times has contributed to well implementation of the AU's goals of enhancing connectivity and providing digital services to people, towards inclusive and sustainable development.

In addition, Vietnam has supported many African countries in the field of education and high-quality human resource training. In 2023 alone, Vietnamese universities have accepted more than 200 African students to study in many different majors. After being trained, students have contributed to the development of African countries and served as a friendship bridge for cooperative relations between Vietnam and Africa.

By officially becoming an AU observer, Vietnam wishes and is ready to strengthen cooperation with the AU in all fields, from politics, diplomacy, economics, culture, and education to participation in UN peacekeeping operations in Africa, thereby directly contributing to the AU's common efforts to realize the vision under Agenda 2063 for peace and security in Africa. At the same time, promoting cooperation with the AU will also bring important benefits, enhancing Vietnam's image, position, and reputation in the international arena.

Continue to thoroughly grasp Resolution 34-NQ/TW dated January 9, 2023, of the Politburo on several major orientations and policies to implement the foreign policy of the 13th Party Congress and closely follow the PM's direction in the project developing relations between Vietnam and the AU for the 2021-2025 period, Vietnam will promote cooperation with the AU in a practical, effective and consistent manner with needs and interests of each side. In that spirit, in the coming time, Vietnam will cooperate with AU partners in the following directions.

First, increase contact activities between leaders of the two sides. In the immediate future, Vietnam will send representatives to attend important activities of the AU. In addition, the two sides will continue to build and improve cooperation mechanisms between Vietnam and relevant agencies under the AU, coordinate stances, and support each other at multilateral forums to promote the role, voice, and interests of developing countries; share information and experience in handling issues related to security and peace, responding to global challenges, as well as experience in transforming economic development models.

Second, in terms of economy, trade, investment, and agriculture, with a population of 1.4 billion people and expected to double by 2050, Africa is an important market and is gradually becoming a growing economy.

In the context that AU member countries are prioritizing the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to realize the goals in the 2063 Agenda on promoting economic integration, the Vietnam-AU participation in proactively and actively participating in the implementation of this agreement by the AU will bring great cooperation opportunities between the two sides, helping to create a breakthrough in trade cooperation.

In addition, Vietnam will also coordinate with the AU in finding and mobilizing partners to support the implementation of multiparty agricultural cooperation projects in Africa, in which Vietnam supports technology and experts to contribute to ensuring food security for the people.

Third, regarding cultural cooperation, education, people-to-people exchanges, and tourism, the two sides will organize tourism promotion and cultural exchange activities on the occasion of each side's important events, and increase support for each other. Supporting each other in human resource training, to tighten friendship and increase understanding, as well as promoting tourism, an area with a lot of potential for cooperation between the two sides, Hang pointed out.

On the solid foundation of the good political relationship between the two sides, with positive cooperation results in recent years, the support and determination of senior leaders of Vietnam, the AU, and member countries and the people, Hang affirmed Vietnam fully believes in the good prospects of the relation with the AU on new heights, actively contributing to maintaining peace, cooperation, and sustainable development of each side, and each area.

New Development Step in Vietnam - Africa Relations
Vietnamese Ambassador to Ethiopia Nguyen Nam Tien (right) presented his letter of credentials to the chairperson of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat in December 2023. Photo: VNA

The African Union (AU), formerly known as the Organization of African Unity (OAU), was established in 1963 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, with 32 founding member countries. The AU currently brings together all 55 African countries with an area of 29.7 million square kilometers, a population of about 1.4 billion people, and a GDP of about USD 3,000 billion. The AU has established relations with 119 countries and international organizations, including ASEAN countries such as Cambodia, Indonesia, and Singapore.

In August 2018, on the occasion of President Tran Dai Quang's visit to AU headquarters in Ethiopia, the two sides agreed to promote the establishment of official relations. After a process of consultation and exchange of agreements between the two sides, on December 15, 2023, Vietnamese Ambassador to Ethiopia Nguyen Nam Tien presented his letter of credentials to the chairperson of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat in Addis Ababa, marking the official establishment of Vietnam-AU diplomatic relations.

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