Potential Fields in Vietnam and RoK's Diplomatic Relations

Dr. Le Quoc Phuong, former deputy director of the Center for Industry and Trade (Ministry of Industry and Trade) gives an overview of the new impetus for Vietnam-RoK cooperation.
August 04, 2023 | 20:42
Potential Fields in Vietnam and RoK's Diplomatic Relations

KASI (Korea-ASEAN Solidarity Initiative) and IPS (Strategy for a Free, Peaceful, and Prosperous Indo-Pacific Region) are important parts in the implementation of RoK's global foreign policy named Global Pivotal State (GPS).

Vietnam's role in KASI and IPS

Vietnam plays an important role in the implementation of KASI and IPS by Republic of Korea (RoK), stemming from Vietnam's position in the international arena, and the strong development of Vietnam-RoK relations.

After nearly 40 years of doi moi (renewal process), Vietnam has gone from a poor country to an economy of considerable size with a per capita income at the low average level of the world.

Vietnam is currently ranked 37th out of 240 economies in the world in terms of economic size, 21st in the world and 2/10th in ASEAN in terms of export scale (after Singapore).

Vietnam is also a responsible member of the international community. In the region, Vietnam is an active member of regional organizations such as ASEAN and APEC.

Based on a comprehensive assessment of the size of the economy, international influence and soft power, Vietnam was ranked 30th by the US News & World Report magazine in the list of the most powerful countries in the world in 2022.

Strong development of Vietnam-RoK relations

Since Vietnam and the RoK established diplomatic relations in 1992, bilateral cooperation flourished, making the two countries become each other's leading economic partners.

Regarding investment, as of April 2023, the RoK has more than 9,500 valid investment projects in Vietnam with a total registered capital of US$82 billion (accounting for about 20% of total FDI capital into Vietnam). The RoK ranks first in more than 140 countries and territories investing in Vietnam.

In terms of trade, with a total import-export turnover in 2022 between the two countries reaching US$87 billion, the RoK is Vietnam's third largest trading partner (after China and the US), while Vietnam is RoK's 3rd largest trading partner (after the US and China).

The two countries aim to bring the total bilateral import and export turnover to US$150 billion by 2030 in a balanced and sustainable direction.

Regarding development aid, the RoK is currently the second largest ODA supplier to Vietnam (after Japan).

In Southeast Asia, Vietnam is currently Korea's largest economic partner, accounting for 30% of RoK's total FDI in ASEAN and 50% of the total trade turnover between the RoK and ASEAN.

The two countries upgraded their bilateral cooperation to a strategic partnership in 2009 and a comprehensive strategic partnership in 2022.

Currently, only four countries have a comprehensive strategic partnership with Vietnam including China (2008), Russia (2012), India (2016), and the RoK (2022).

New impetus for Vietnam-RoK cooperation

To implement IPS, the RoK Government focuses on 9 main tasks.

These tasks include strengthening security cooperation, building an economic security network, strengthening cooperation in important science and technology areas, narrowing the digital divide, and fostering regional cooperation on climate change and energy security.

Potential Fields in Vietnam and RoK's Diplomatic Relations
RoK President Yoon Suk Yeol and his wife Kim Keon Hee during their visit to Vietnam in June 2023. Photo: CPV

The tasks in the IPS combined with the KASI created a new cooperation framework between Vietnam and the RoK.

Security and defense cooperation

Within the framework of IPS's mission "Strengthening comprehensive security cooperation," the RoK expects that the two countries will strengthen cooperation in maritime law enforcement capabilities as well as in the defense sector (Declaration dated December 5, 2022, by President Yoon). This is considered a new level of cooperation between the two countries.

The RoK is currently a major arms manufacturer in the world and one of the major arms suppliers to Vietnam. Vietnam can refer to the Korean lesson in building autonomous defense capacity.

The two countries are maintaining security and defense dialogue mechanisms. Cooperation in strengthening maritime law enforcement capacity is an area of great potential between Vietnam and the RoK. Coast Guards of the two countries could increase the exchange of experience, training, port visits, and joint patrols.

Strengthen cooperation on combating climate change

Within the framework of IPS's mission "Regional cooperation on climate change and energy security," the two countries pledged to strengthen cooperation in environmental protection associated with green growth and sustainable development.

The RoK supports Vietnam in implementing climate change adaptation tasks and greenhouse gas emissions mitigation measures, in line with Vietnam's commitment at COP 26 to net zero emissions by 2050.

Technology transfer and innovation

Within the IPS' mission "Strengthening cooperation in important scientific and technological fields", the RoK facilitates technology transfer and development of new technological capabilities in many industries in Vietnam.

Through FDI projects and cooperation programs, Korean companies help Vietnam modernize industries, and build a knowledge economy.

Enhanced multilateral connectivity

Another advantage that IPS and KASI bring is the enhancement of deeper multilateral connectivity for our country.

Through maritime security cooperation with the RoK, Vietnam can increase connectivity in the Indo-Pacific region, with ASEAN as the focus.

This helps Vietnam strengthen its position and diversify its relationship in the context of complex international and regional security.

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