President Truong Tan Sang left for the Philippines on Oct. 26 morning for a three-day state visit at the invitation of President of the Republic of the Philippines Benigno S.Aquino III.

This is Sang’s first visit to the Philippines as Vietnamese President.

The visit aims to affirm Vietnam’s consistent policy of promoting the friendship and multifaceted cooperation with the Philippines, with which the country has had formal diplomatic ties for 35 years.

Since the establishment of Vietnam-Philippines diplomatic ties on July 12, 1976 and the signing of their Joint Statement on Bilateral Cooperation Framework in the first 25 years of the 21 st century and the following period, the friendship and multifaceted cooperation between the two countries have developed on the basis of mutual trust.

Over the recent years, two-way trade between the two countries has risen continuously, reaching 2.4 billion USD last year. Since 2008, Vietnam has enjoyed trade surplus of over 1 billion USD each year with the Philippines, with rice being the main export item which accounts for 50-60 percent of the total earnings.

In addition to rice, Vietnam also exports electronic appliances and agricultural products to the Philippines and imports fertilisers, machineries, spare parts, minerals, liquefied gas, petroleum, pharmaceutical products, and construction materials from this trade partner.

However, cooperation in investment remains modest with the Philippines having 52 projects capitalised at 270 million USD, ranking 26 th out of the 92 countries and territories investing in Vietnam by August this year.

Maritime and ocean cooperation is one of the key pillars of the two countries’ relations. Their Joint Working Group on Maritime and Ocean Issues has met annually seven times. It has been upgraded to the deputy-ministerial level Joint Commission for Maritime and Ocean Issues, and is scheduled to convene the first session in early 2012.

Since 1963, Vietnam has cooperated with the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines through sending researchers to IRRI for studies. So far, 50 varieties of rice have been tested and used in Vietnam. From 1964 to 2009, the IRRI helped Vietnam train 254 scientists, including 55 masters and 29 doctors.

In June last year, the two sides signed the Fisheries Cooperation Agreement and a Joint Committee for Fishing was established in July this year. A hot line was also set up to deal with illegal fishing and assist fishermen.

The two countries also signed key cooperation agreements such as the Agreement on Academic Cooperation, the Trade Agreement, the Agreement on Investment Encouragement and Protection, and the Agreement on the Establishment of Joint Committee for Trade and Economics, the Agreement on the Establishment of Joint Commission for Bilateral Cooperation (JCBC), the Agreement on National Defence Cooperation and the Agreement on Rice Trade Cooperation.

During President Sang’s visit to the Philippines, the two sides will review their cooperation in all fields and discuss orientations to bring the two countries’ relations to a new height, as well as measures to promote cooperation at international and regional forums./.