Vietnamese Ambassador to Algeria Pham Quoc Tru (Photo: VNA)

Algiers (VNA) – The upcoming Vietnamese visit of Algerian Foreign Minister Abdelkader Messahel is one of the important activities helping to intensify all-round cooperation between Vietnam and Algeria, marking a new step forward in promoting the bilateral partnership, stated Vietnamese Ambassador to Algeria Pham Quoc Tru.

In an interview with Vietnamese correspondents in Algeria, the diplomat said that this is the first official visit to Vietnam of an Algerian FM since 2000.

As scheduled, Minister Abdelkader Messahel will meet a number of high-ranking Vietnamese leaders, and hold talks with Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh to update each other on their countries’ policies and discuss international and regional issues of mutual concern, as well as measures to develop the partnership between the two countries and their ministries.

Commenting on the Vietnam-Algeria relationship, Ambassador Tru said that over the years, the bilateral cooperation has seen significant progress in a number of areas.

The two sides have signed 12 treaties and nearly 20 agreements, protocols, and memoranda of understanding on affiliation in the fields of diplomacy, economy and trade, science and technology, culture, sports, tourism, justice, post-telecommunications, animal and plant quarantine, animal health, maritime transportation, education, vocational training, finance, agriculture, and small- and medium-size enterprises.

The bilateral Inter-Governmental Committee has been formed, meeting every two years to coordinate and promote cooperation in various fields, said Ambassador Tru, adding that during its 11th meeting, the two sides agreed on many specific measures to further bolster bilateral collaboration.

Regarding politics and diplomacy, Vietnam and Algeria have set up and maintained the periodic political consultation mechanism at deputy foreign ministerial level. The consultations have contributed to deepening mutual understanding and coordination at international forums, while strengthening bilateral partnership, he said.

Tru noted that Vietnam and Algeria have applied visa exemptions on citizens of each other’s nations, while establishing friendship parliamentarian groups and friendship associations with diverse activities to foster people-to-people exchange.

In terms of economy, Vietnam and Algeria have cooperated in an oil and gas joint-venture project in the latter’s Bir Seba. The firm started commercial exploitation in 2015 with a capacity of 20,000 barrels per day. Currently, it is in its second phase, increasing the capacity to 40,000 barrels per day by late 2019 and early 2020. This is one of the examples of effective investment projects of Vietnam overseas, said the diplomat.

He highlighted that trade between the two countries has increased sharply in recent years. Vietnam’s exports to Algeria rose to 281 million USD in 2017 from 233 million USD in 2015, making Algeria its third largest export market in Africa.

Currently, about 5,000 Vietnamese labourers are working in Algeria, mostly on construction sites.

Evaluating the future outlook of the Vietnam-Algeria partnership, Tru said that with each side’s substantial potential, sound political relations, and determination of their leaders, the bilateral multi-faceted collaboration will thrive, especially in economy and trade, and labour.

However, the ambassador also pointed out some difficulties and challenges facing the bilateral cooperation, particularly in economic and labour affiliations such as the shortcomings in legal framework as Algeria has yet to become a member of the World Trade Organisation.

Algeria’s measures to ban and minimise imports have caused difficulties for Vietnam’s exports, he underlined, adding that the trade agreement signed between the two countries in 1994 has almost no practical semblance in bilateral trade development, said Tru.

Besides this, the current bilateral legal framework also lacks the necessary policies to encourage and protect the investment and business activities of enterprises, along with a shortage of information and understanding of relevant agencies and business communities of both sides on each other’s markets and promising partners.

Meanwhile, the two States have yet to invest adequate resources to support bilateral cooperation programmes and projects, the ambassador noted. -VNA