Despite their geographical distance apart, Vietnam and South Africa have nurtured their traditional ties over the past two decades.

Since establishing diplomatic ties on December 22, 1993, before South Africa’s first democratic election, Vietnam and South Africa have enjoyed numerous achievements, especially in politics, reflected by the high-level meetings between leaders of both countries.

However, Vietnam-South Africa ties existed even before the official establishment of their diplomatic relationship – people from both countries united and supported each other during each nation’s struggle for independence and freedom. The two countries shared numerous similarities in the challenges they faced during their past struggles for national liberation.

Over the past 20 years, a number of bilateral agreements and memoranda of understanding on various strategic issues of mutual concern have been signed.

In August last year, South Africa hosted the second meeting of the Vietnam-South Africa Inter-Governmental Partnership Forum, which drew the participation of Deputy Foreign Minister Le Luong Minh. During the forum, both countries discussed bilateral relations and outlined prioritised areas in order to not only strengthen their current political ties but also expand trade and tourism cooperation between the two countries.

South Africa is Vietnam’s top partner in Africa, with two-way trade increasing from 200 million USD in 2007 to 640 million USD in 2011. The two countries are striving to increase trade to 1 billion USD in the near future.

Holding an important position in the developing markets as well as the global economy, South Africa is one of the top ten economies in the world with best infrastructure, financial services and banking system, - a promising market for Vietnamese businesses.

It can also serve as a bridge linking Vietnam and the rest of Africa and 14 countries in the South African Development Community (SADC) with a population of over 250 million.

The occasion of the 19th Freedom Day of South Africa (April 27) and the 20th anniversary of Vietnam-South Africa diplomatic ties is a chance for both countries to review and further their cooperation for stronger development and prosperous societies in both countries.-VNA