Hanoi (VNA) – A State visit to Vietnam by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani from October 5-7 is set to solidify cooperation between Iran and the Southeast Asian nation.

The two countries have seen progress in relations since diplomatic ties were established on August 4, 1973. Iran opened its embassy in Hanoi in 1991, and the Vietnamese Embassy was established in Tehran in 1997.

In September 2009, the Vietnam – Iran Friendship Association was founded, aiming to enhance the two peoples’ friendship and mutual understanding, along with cooperation in economics, trade, science-technology, education-training, and culture.

Each side has arranged several visits by leaders to discuss boosting cooperation. Then Presidents Le Duc Anh and Tran Duc Luong paid State visits to Iran in May 1994 and October 2002, respectively. Nong Duc Manh also visited Tehran in July 1999 as Chairman of Vietnam’s National Assembly.

In October 1995, Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani made a State visit to Vietnam. Speaker of the country’s parliament Akbar Nateq toured the Southeast Asian nation in December 1998. Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister and Deputy Minister of Industry, Mine and Trade also made trips there in March 2015 and July 2016, respectively.

With a population of over 80 million, Iran is a major Middle Eastern market for Vietnam, which in turn is a gateway to ASEAN markets for Iran.

Vietnam’s main exports to the Islamic Republic include aquatic products, rice, tea, coffee, pepper, cashew nuts, bamboo and rattan products, rubber and rubber products, plastic products, machinery, electronic components, and apparel.

Iran mostly ships petrochemical products, metal, wheat, and apparel and footwear materials to Vietnam.

Despite considerable potential, the countries’ economic partnership remains modest. Bilateral trade reached 106.7 million USD in 2015, including 77.2 million USD of Vietnamese exports. The figure was 54 million USD in the first half of 2016, including 35.3 million USD worth of shipments from Vietnam.

The two sides have inked various agreements, including a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on cooperation between the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture; an MoU on cooperation in fisheries between Vietnam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and Iran’s Ministry of Agriculture in 2009; an MoU on cultural cooperation in 2013; and another MoU on cooperation between the State Bank of Vietnam and the Central Bank of Iran in 2016.

They also signed an agreement on sea transport and trade in 2002, an agreement on investment promotion and protection in 2009, and another on double-taxation avoidance in 2014.

The trip to Vietnam by President Hassan Rouhani is made at the invitation of President Tran Dai Quang. During the visit, the two sides will discuss cooperation in trade, investment, tourism and agriculture. They will also talk about international and regional issues.-VNA