Vietnam - Philippines ties keep flourishing
(VNF) - July 2017 marks the 41st anniversary of Vietnam - Philippines diplomatic ties establishment. Bilateral relation, according to president Duterte, has not only been "good neighbors" but moreover, "good brothers".
Vietnamese people since long time ago has been familiar with the proverb “Better a neighbor near than a brother far off”.
Thank to the adjacent geographical location, Vietnam and the Philippines has been sharing a cherished fraternal friendship, and at the same time are good neighbors.
Looking back on the last four decades, the two nations have been walking by each other's side, together celebrating joyful moments as well as supporting each other in difficult time.
PM Nguyen Xuan Phuc (R) held reception for President Durterte in Sep 2016 (source: VNA)
The ties thus will vastly benefit both sides if it is well preserved and further developed.
Since taking office on June 30 last year, President Durterte, has paid special attention to the friendship and partnership between his country and Vietnam.
The progress of bilateral ties was firstly marked by his official visit to Vietnam on Sep 28-29, 2016. It was Duterte's first trip to Vietnam, and his fourth visit to a foreign country since the beginning of presidency.
In over the last 40 years, many milestones in bilateral ties between two countries have been recorded.
In November 2002, it was the successful signing of a bilateral cooperation framework for the first 25 years of the 21 st century and beyond.
In October 2011, two countries inked an action programme for the period 2011-2016, aiming to implement plans in specific areas of cooperation.
Remarkably, during the visit made by President Truong Tan Sang to Philippines (November 17, 2015), Minister of Foreign Affairs of two countries have signed the Joint Statement on the Establishment of a Strategic Partnership, opening a new chapter in bilateral ties.
Vietnam has become Philippines’ third strategic partner, after the US and Japan.
The strategic partnership has been and wil further be reinforced existing bilateral cooperation mechanism, realizing the signed agreement, and seek new opportunitites to deepen fields of cooperation between two countries in politic, economics, security – defense, justice, law practice, maritime cooperation, science-technology, education – culture, multilateral cooperation.
Harnessing existing potentials
In recent years, two-way trade value maintains its increasing trend.
In 2013, trade value was worth USD 2.6 billions. The number climbed to USD 2.975 billion, USD 3 billion and USD 3.3 billion in 2014, 2015, 2016, respectively.
In the first five months of the year 2017 alone, two-way trade value has hit USD 1.5 billion (a 21.1% year-on-year rise against the same period of 2016), in which Vietnam keeps experiencing trade surplus (export value was USD 1.04 billions, and import value from Philippines was of USD460 millions).
Particularly, Vietnam currently tops the list of rice exporters to the Philippines.
Vietnamese rice impresses Philippines market thank to its good quality and reasonable price (source: VNA)
In over the last ten years, consumers in Philippines have been familiar with Vietnamese rice, which is both good in quality and available at reasonable price.
In 2016, Vietnam is the Philippines’s 12th largest trading partner, its 12th export market and 12th import supplier.
Regarding investment, currently in Philippines, there are 72 ongoing projects, of which 55 are of 100% foreign capital and total registered capital is at USD 312 million.
Currently, Philippines is ranked 33 out of 116 countries and territories investing in Vietnam.
Vietnam, for its part, are fostering several investment projects in Philippines. Currently Vietnam are working on 8 projects with total capital of USD 1 million in the friend country. That means untapped potentials for cooperation between two countries are in abundance.
Against the backdrop of complicated development in the East Sea, Vietnam and Philippines keep sharing the common interests in maintaining peace, stability, and cooperation.
Therefore, Sea and Ocean Cooperation has become one among key pillars in strategic partnerships.
Its importance was marked by the founding of a task force specializing on maritime issues, which held the first meeting in February 2012 and the second in September 2015.
The task force has recently been upgraded to Joint Committee on Sea and Ocean Cooperation (Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs level). The two sides also maintain working closely with the ASEAN to speed up the approval of East Sea Code of Conduce (COC).
At the same time, culture, education and tourism are also three indispensible areas of cooperation.
Vietnamese former ambassador to the Philippines Nguyen Thac Dinh (left corner) attending Philippines National Day celebration in Hanoi
Various fascinating activities such as the “Vietnamese cultural day in Philippines”, “Philippines day in Vietnam”, arts exhibition, cuisines festivals have tightened the bonds between two countries and reinforce mutual understandings on one another's traditional culture, and arts.
Regarding education, the number of students, researchers from Vietnam studying in the Philippines has been on the rise.
While in 2006 the number was modest with a few hundreds, nowadays it has reached thousands.
Currenly Vietnamese undergraduate and graduate students are flocking to the Philippines, since the training quality is comparable to the UK, US, Australia, whilst costs of living and tuition fee is only one-third or one-fourth of the amount it takes to study in Western countries.
In addition, thanks to the proximity in geographical location, Vietnamese students feel convenient to travel back, forth between host and home country during their summer vacation and public holiday.
In terms of tourism, the number of Vietnamese tourists visiting Philippines and vice versa has been rising steadily, thanks to the increasing availability of low-cost budget airlines.
The evolution of bilateral ties in the last 41 years is the foundation for people of the two countries to believe that the Vietnam - Philippines relations will keep flourishing in future.
And the belief has been strengthened as the leader of Philippines, President Duterte expressed his willingness to direct Ministries, Sectors, Departments and Enterprises of his country to maintain close cooperation with Vietnamese relevant agencies, in order to enhance the strategic partnerships, as well as effectively implement all articles in signed collaboration documents, ensuring the benefits of two countries, and the peace and stability of the region and the world./.
Nguyen Thac Dinh - Former Ambassador of Vietnam to the Philippines ( Translated by Phi Yen )