Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh speaks at the 19th National External Affairs Conference which convenes in Hanoi on August 12. (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA)
– The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and heads of Vietnamese representative missions abroad are ready to work alongside domestic cities and provinces in comprehensively fostering external relations with other countries, said Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh on August 12.

He made the statement in his opening remarks at the 19th National External Affairs Conference, which took place in Hanoi on August 12 under the theme “Activeness and creativeness for effective integration and sustainable development.”

The biennial event was organised ahead the 30th Diplomatic Conference slated for August 12 – 17, bringing together 500 delegates from ministries, state agencies and departments of external affairs of 63 cities and provinces nationwide alongside heads of Vietnam’s diplomatic missions overseas.

The foreign ministry and Vietnamese diplomatic corps in foreign countries are willing to help localities introduce investment opportunities and promote trade abroad to expand the market. At the same time, the localities will be assisted in verifying partners and settling trade disputes against the backdrop of Vietnam being a member of a number of new-generation free trade agreements, the deputy PM noted.

He added that the ministry and diplomatic corps also aim to help the cities and provinces promote their image and signature products and work together to protect the rights of Vietnamese citizens, particularly fishermen, overseas.

Minh urged the departments of external affairs across the country to act as a point of contact to strengthen external relations and enhance efficiency of international integration. They must contribute more to this work by providing advices to local governments and timely proposing solutions to remove barriers during the implementation of international and regional integration commitments, he stressed.

According to Director of the ministry’s Department of Foreign Affairs of Localities Nguyen Hoang Long, the ministry and Vietnamese representative missions abroad have signed 420 agreements between Vietnam’s cities and provinces and foreign localities and enterprises between 2016 and 2018, an increase of 20.3 percent from the previous three-year period. The agreements have intensified friendship and cooperation between Vietnam and foreign partners and helped promote the image and potentials of the country and its localities.

Thanks to such efforts, Vietnam’s foreign trade in 2016 – 2017 hit 775 billion USD, up 23.8 percent from that of 2014 – 2016, Long said. The FDI flow into the country over the last two years also rose by 34.9 percent to 60.28 billion USD, compared to 44.67 billion USD of the 2014-2016 period.

Since the 18th National External Affairs Conference in 2016, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has worked closely with cities and provinces to prepare applications for Vietnamese heritages to be recognised by UNESCO. Seven recognitions have been earned since then, bringing the total number of UNESCO-recognised heritages in Vietnam to 38.

The ministry has channeled many efforts into connecting Vietnamese overseas and cities and provinces nationwide to strengthen national solidarity, attract investment and raise funds for charity. The border localities have closely coordinated with the ministry in border management, contributing to the security and social order along shared border with China, Laos and Cambodia.

During the conference, delegates focused their discussion on several topics, including external affair work for local economic development, strengthening organizational structures of local foreign affair agencies, and reward system to encourage localities in fostering external relations. –VNA