Hanoi (VNA) – National Assembly Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan will pay an official visit to the Republic of Korea (RoK) from December 4-7 at the invitation of Speaker of the National Assembly of the RoK Moon Hee-sang.

Vietnam and the RoK established diplomatic ties on December 22, 1992. In August 2001, the two nations issued a joint statement on comprehensive partnership in the 21st century on the occasion of the RoK visit by Vietnamese President Tran Duc Luong. In October 2009, they boosted their relationship to strategic cooperative partnership level during the Vietnam visit by Korean President Lee Myung-bak.

The two countries have contributed to forums and multilateral cooperation frameworks in the region and the world, while bilateral ties have been deepened via the regular exchange of high-level delegations.

Relations between the two legislatures have been nurtured bilaterally and multilaterally. During the RoK visit by Vietnamese NA Chairman Nguyen Sinh Hung in July 2013, a cooperation deal between the two legislatures was signed.

Speakers of the Korean NA Chung Ui-hwa and Chung Sye-kyun visited Vietnam in March 2015 and April 2017, respectively, while Vietnamese NA Vice Chairman Uong Chu Luu visited the RoK in July 2017. The friendship parliamentarians groups of the two countries hold regular exchanges and activities during major festivals.

The RoK is the biggest foreign investor, the second largest supplier of official development assistance (ODA) (behind Japan) and the third largest trade partner of Vietnam, behind China and the European Union (EU). Bilateral cooperation mechanisms have been maintained such as the Vietnam-RoK Inter-Governmental Committee on Economic, Scientific and Technological Cooperation and the Ministerial-level Inter-Committee on cooperation in nuclear power, energy and industry.

In the first 10 months of this year, two-way trade hit 54.2 billion USD. The enforcement of the Vietnam – RoK free trade agreement on December 20, 2015 is expected to lift the figure to 100 billion USD by 2020.

As of October 2018, the RoK was the biggest investor among 128 countries and territories investing in Vietnam with 7,323 projects worth 62.1 billion USD, accounting for 18.3 percent of the total figure.

During the 10-month period, the RoK ranked second among 104 countries and territories investing in Vietnam with total registered capital of 6.5 billion USD, mostly in manufacturing and processing, real estate and construction in Bac Ninh, Hanoi, Dong Nai, Hai Phong and Thai Nguyen.

Vietnam is the largest recipient of ODA from the RoK. The RoK offered 1.2 billion USD in preferential loans to Vietnam from its Economic Development Cooperation Fund in 2012-2015 and 1.5 billion USD for 2016-2020, focusing on green growth, infrastructure construction and human resources development.

The RoK is the second largest importer of Vietnamese guest workers, behind Taiwan and China while Vietnam is the second largest exporter of labourers to the country, behind China. The RoK launched the Employment Permit System (EPS) in 2004 under the Memorandum of Understanding on labour cooperation which is extended each year. Both sides are piloting the dispatch of workers from several Vietnamese localities to the RoK for seasonal agriculture jobs.

In recent years, the RoK has emerged as the second largest source of tourist arrivals in Vietnam, behind China. Last year, more than 2.5 million Korean tourists arrived in Vietnam, up 56 percent year-on-year. In 2017, the number of Vietnamese visitors to the RoK neared 325,000, up 29 percent annually.

In the January-October period, 2.8 million Korean visitors landed in Vietnam, up 48.3 percent annually, while more than 440,000 Vietnamese people visited the RoK, up 37.3 percent.

The two nations signed a cultural cooperation agreement in August 1994, a Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation in culture, arts, sports and tourism in October 2008 and other agreements on youth and education exchanges. In 2006, the Korean Cultural Centre was established in Hanoi.

The RoK has assisted Vietnam in launching new rural development models, notably the happiness programme launched in the central province of Quang Tri and in the northern mountainous province of Lao Cai in 2015.

The two sides signed a governmental-level cooperation agreement on science and technology. The management board of the Hoa Lac High-Tech Park and the RoK’s Chungnam Technology Science Park sealed a cooperation agreement in 2010. The Vietnam – RoK industrial technology incubator was inaugurated in 2015.

Collaboration in artificial intelligence has been strengthened via information sharing and personnel training under curricula by the Korean Intellectual Property Office and the International Intellectual Property Training Institute, automation in intellectual property management and the enforcement of commitments in the Patent Cooperation Treaty.

Statistics from the Korea Immigration Service showed that there were more than 190,000 Vietnamese nationals living and working in the RoK as of October 2018 while about 150,000 Koreans have been in Vietnam.

Regular friendship exchanges in each country have raised mutual understanding. Up to 60 localities of the two countries have signed cooperation agreements. The two governments are hastening negotiations on a judicial assistance agreement in civil affairs and trade to make it easier for their citizens to move to each other’s country.

The upcoming visit by the top legislator will also affirm support to the RoK’s New Southern Policy and realise an agreement signed between the two legislatures in July 2013.-VNA